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Full text of "Pioneer hunters of the Kankakee"

loneer Hunters 
of the Kankakee 



MMMMMMMiMMMMMMIHMMKIMM 






LIBRARY OF THE 
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 
AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 

917.7? 
W49p 





Yours Truly 

J. Lorenzo Werich 



Pioneer Hunters 
of the Kankakee 

BY 

J. LORENZO WERICH 



Copyright 1920 
By J, Lorenzo Werich 
All Rights Reserved 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. Catching /Ay First Raccoon 9 

II. Finding The Missing Link 15 

III. Defeat of the Pottowattomies 21 

IV. Setting Steel Traps 33 

V. Dividing the Game 46 

VI. /Ay First Boat Ride 62 

VII. Hunters Who Have Buckfevered 72 

VIII. Trappers' Claims 85 

IX. Running the Ferry 101 

X. Last of the Fottowattomies 108 

XI. Home of Chief Killbuck 122 

XII. Indian Island 131 

XIII. Grape Island 141 

XIV. Barrel-House Blind 150 

XV. Draining the Swamps 174 



n.ia- 




ILLUSTRATIONS 

J. Lorenzo Werich Frontpiece 

Trapping Ay First Raccoon - 12 

Pioneer Trapper's Shanty on Little Paradise Island 38 

John Werich - 70 

A Deer Hunter's Lodge on Johnson's Island 73 

Eaton's Bridge 102 
Interior View of Louisville Club House - 107 

Louisville Club House - 1O8 

In Camp on Island Six to Two 129 

A Typical Trapper's Shanty on Indian Island 131 

The Indian Island Saw Aill 134 

Ay Island Home on the Kankakee - 135 

The White Star 137 

Rockville, Terre Haute & Indianapolis Club House 139 

Ruins of a Trapper's Cabin on Grape Island 143 
Some of the Traps That Were Used by Early Hunters - 146 

Ay First Duck Shooting from a Boat 150 

The Old River Bed at North Bend 186 

The New Kankakee 188 

Camp of Logansport Hunters on Cornell's Island 189 






To 

The Pioneer Hunters and Trappers 
of the Kankakee River Region, oi many years 
of faithful friendship, I dedicate this volume, 
By the Author, 



CHAPTER I 
CATCHING MY FIRST RACCOON 

REMINISCENCES 

OF PIONEER DAYS ON 

THE OLD KANKAKEE RIVER 

CATCHING MY FIRST 

RACCOON 

"Oh the hunting days of my youth, 
Have forever gone from me." 

I was born in a log cabin on my grandfather's 
farm near Valparaiso, Indiana in 1860, and 
within two miles and a half of the historical 
stream of which I am going to tell you. It was 
whilst watching the vanishing of a great hunting 
ground by the reclaiming of the Kankakee 
swamp lands, or rather making a new Kanka- 
kee River, that involves the plot which forms 
the gist of my story. I have seen the sad face 
of the old Pottowattomie Indian who was driven 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 

from his hunting grounds on the Kankakee, and 
now we see a shadow oi gloom, of sadness, on 
the faces of the few remaining old pioneer hunt- 
ers who have spent their early years in hunting 
wild game and trapping the fur-bearing animals 
of the Kankakee region. 

It is not my purpose to write the whole history 
of this Kankakee region or to give reminiscenses 
of all the pioneer hunters that have hunted and 
fished on the Kankakee, in the years past, as it 
would take a long time to write it, and it would 
make volumes. 

Aany hunters have come here from far off 
cities, New York, Fhiladephia; Washington, Bos- 
ton, Pittsburg, and many near-by cities. I have 
met and hunted with sportsmen from Europe, 
and the hunters usually get what they are look- 
forplenty of game as it was the best hunting 
ground for all kinds of game birds in the United 
States. This fact I know, as I have hunted as 
far north as I could and yet be in the United 
States, and as far suth as the Gulf of Mexico, 

10 



CATCHING MY FIRST RACCOON 
and west as far as the Rockies, and I have never 
yet found a place that equalled the Kankakee 
swamps, for the variety of game to be found there. 

To make a long story short, in those days it 
was the hunters' and trappers' paradise, and no 
wonder he now feels sad at heart when he looks 
over this once great hunting-ground now the 
home of the farmer. He can realize how the 
Redman felt when he had to give up this region 
to the white hunters. 

When about eight years of age we moved to 
the marsh and lived in a tog cabin on Bissel 
Ridge. In the summer season my father ditched 
and made hay. The grass was cut with a scythe. 
After being cured it was hauled out of the marsh 
on a brush to some knoll or ridge and there 
stacked. In the fall father trapped the fur-bearing 
animals and shot game for meat, while tending 
his traps. He would dress the skins at night. I 
helped getting the bow-stretchers ready and in 
stringing -the dry hides. And when snuffing the 
candle, no lamps or electric lights were used in 

11 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 

those days, I would sometimes get sleepy and 
snuff the wick a little too low and put the light 
out. A few yards in front of our cabin ran a 
small creek that spread out over a low marsh, 
or rather a slough, as they are sometimes called, 
just below our house. This formed a great 
musk-rat pond and was also a great place for 
wild ducks to nest and rear their young. About 
a mile above our cabin was another musk-rat 
pond, and this little creek was its' outlet, mak- 
ing it a run-way for the rats from one pond to 
another. Father gave me two or three old steel 
traps which had weak springs and which I could 
set without breaking my fingers, should they 
happen to get caught between the jaws. I set 
the traps along the creek where the rats would 
stop to feed on roots and such vegetation as 
musk-rats usually feed upon. I caught fifteen 
rats that fall. One morning I went to my traps 
and found a raccoon in one of them. Ay young- 
est sister usually went with me to the traps and 
she was with me this morning. To say we were 

12 




Trapping My Pint Raccoon. This is one of the wild 
animals that dwell on the edge of civilization in the wilds of 
the Kankak^e, where dwelled the author 



CATCHING MY FIRST RACCOON 
frightened would be putting it in a very mild 
form. We had nothing to kill the raccoon 
with, and would probably not have done so had 
we something with which to do it. Ay sister hav- 
ing more courage than I, stayed and watched 
the coon whilst I ran back home for mother- 
father was away tending to his traps to come 
and help kill the coon. With two big clubs my 
mother and 1 soon had Ar. Coon's earthly career 
ended. It has been more than a half century 
ago since this happened. I have hunted and 
trapped some big game since that time, but never 
became quite so excited as on the morning 
when I caught the first raccon. 

The scene that morning will be forever photo- 
graphed on the tablets of my memory. It was 
at this place I lived when 1 began my early hunt- 
ing, commencing to realize the pleasure it af- 
forded me. But of course I had no idea of the 
hardships which existed in it. We resided here 
about two years and a half. In the meantime 
my father bought the Bissel stock, consisting of 

13 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
two-fifths of the stock in the Indian Island Saw- 
mill Company. Ay grandfather owned five 
one-hundred dollar shares of stock in the saw- 
mill company. This he gave to my mother. 
Our next move was to the Indian Island where 
I spent the next ten years of my boy-hood days. 
I will tell you more in another chapter. 



14 



CHAPTER II 
FINDING THE MISSING LINK 

THE DISCOVERY 

OF THE KANKAKEE BY 

LASALLE, A FUR TRADER MEETING 

THE POTTOWATTOMIE INDIANS AND 

FINISHING THE MISSING LINK 

Look at the map of Indiana and you will see, 
up in the left-hand corner of the State, a small 
stream rising in the southern part of St. Joseph 
county, which flows in a south-western direction 
and drains the counties of La Porte, Starke, Por- 
ter, Jasper, Lake and Newton. It is also the 
boundary line between the counties I have men- 
tioned. Years ago the Kankakee was called 
the eastern branch of the Illinois river, but that 
theme has been disproved. The Indian name 
of the Kankakee, from the two words "The-Ak 
(wolf) and "A-Ki(land) literally means Wolf- 

15 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
Land River, from the fact that many years ago 
a band of Indians of the Aohican Tribe who cal- 
led themselves "wolves" when driven from their 
homes by the Iroquois, took refuge on its 
banks near the headwaters of the The-A-r\i-r\i. 
Charlevoix, the French missionary, on his voy- 
age down the Kankakee river in 1721, speaks 
of the wolves. It was from some of these of 
Indians, whose village was a few miles from the 
south bend on the St. Joe river, and where now 
stands the city of South Bend, that the mission- 
ary recFuited his force for his expedition down 
the Kankakee, the Illinois, and the Mississippi 
rivers. The Kankakee is the most historical 
River in the state. Yet there is very little known 
of its early history, only that the numerous wild 
animals which made this region their home 
made the Kankakee an important fur-trading 
country. Occasionally a hunter's story of see- 
ing or shooting a deer or wild-cat in the Kanka- 
kee swamps is read in the newspapers. The 
river itself, though not a long one, is beautiful, 

16 



FINDING THE MISSING LINK 
winding through marshes, forests, and long tan- 
gled vines, among its wooded islands, with here 
and there there an opening in the forest. It 
spreads its channel for miles and in many places 
becomes a lonely, lily-fringed lake. Its bed in 
the sand and clay forms its course to within a few 
miles of Aomence, Illinois, where the rock 
crops out and forms a great dam across the 
stream. This dam was partly removed a few 
years ago at a cost of seventy-five thousand 
dollars. The Kankakee region was once a 
heavy timbered country, but the forest fires have 
greatly reduced its wood districts. The lofty 
sycamore and the mammoth elm are still to be 
found on the banks of the Kankakee, as they 
were during the time when the fur-laden boats 
of the French glided down the river. In the 
early history of this continent it was the custom 
of Spanish explorers to give it some special 
geographical features by naming the place they 
discovered after some Saint in a church-calen- 
der, the day the discovery was made, in this 

17 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
manner it was no trouble to trace the exact 
course of these explorers along the coast of the 
continent. It was not so with the French. And 
for this reason many notes of historical interest, 
of the early discoveries made by the French 
have never been written in history. Early in the 
fall of 1679, LaSalle left the vessel at Green 
Bay and coasted the shore of Lake Michigan 
until he arrived at the mouth of the St. 
Joseph river. Here he built Fort LaSalle 
and stayed here most all that winter on account 
of the ice, to await the arrival of Tonti, an Italian 
officer whom he had brought with him from 
France as his lieutenant. There were about forty 
in all as they left Ft. LaSalle early in the spring, 
As soon as the ice had gone out of the river they 
ascended the St. Joseph river as far as the south 
bend about eighty miles, then encamped for a 
time to await the remainder of the party, which 
arrived in a few days. Then they took portage 
across the swamps to the headwaters of the 
"The~A-r\i-r\i." (Kankakee.) 

18 



FINDING THE MISSING LINK 
It was LaSalle's plan and idea, when he left 
France and sailed from his home in Rouen to 
the French possessions in Canada, to accumu- 
late a fortune by trading European merchandise 
to the Indians for their furs and pelts which they 
got along the lakes and northern rivers. With 
this object in view he explored many lakes and 
rivers in what is now Indiana, and established 
trading posts on the frontier. After establishing 
trading posts, as I have said before, LaSalle 
traded with the - Indians such articles of mer- 
chandise as guns, ammunition, knives, hatchets, 
kettles, blankets and beads in exchange for their 
valuable furs. This was the motto of the Indian 
"You Can Do Me GoodI Do You Good." 
The Indians soon learned that the Frenchman 
was a benefactor and not an enemy, therefore 
in a few years they were carrying on a big fur 
trade with the Indians on the northwest frontier. 
Tradition tells us that every wigwam in those 
days welcomed the visit of a Frenchman, Hav- 
ing carried out his plans so far successfully, this 

19 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
celebrated explorer had another object in view. 
This was to find the link which connected the 
great inland seas of the north with the waters of 
the gulf in the south. He had heard of that 
wonderful river, "The Father of Waters," which 
flowed from tne unexplored wilderness in the 
north far away into the unknown Sunny South. 
With this object before him he set out on an ex- 
ploring expedition to find a shorter way that 
would shorten the world's commerce between 
the East and the West and to his idea he had 
found the missing link which is our own Kanka- 
kee river. 



20 



CHAPTER III 
THE MIAMI CONFEDERACY 

THE DEFEAT 

OF THE POTTOWATTOMIES 

AT THE BATTLE OF TIPPECANOE 

WHICH FOREVER SHATTERED THE 

STRONGHOLD OF THE 

MIAMI CONFEDERACY 

In 1881 I made a trip to the Indian territory 
and the Pottowattomie reservation in Kansas. 
I visited several tribes of Indians, at that time 
the Indian affairs were under the control of the 
Federal Government. The purpose of my visit 
was to find, if possible, any of the old Pottowat- 
tomie Indians that at one time inhabited the 
Kankakes region, that I might be able to learn 
more of the early history of their hunting grounds 
on the Kankakee river. I found two very old 
Pottowattomies that claimed to have lived and 
hunted on the Kankakee river in their early days. 

21 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
You can not tell how old an Indian is by his 
looks unless you are acquainted with his habits, 
but they are octogenarians. At any rate they 
gave accounts of events that had actually hap- 
pened when and where treaties had been made. 
When I spoke of the great tragedy at Fort Dear- 
born one of the old warriors arose to his feet, 
threw a blanket around him and began to pace 
to and fro; finally he said in a saddened voice 
that he was there. I drew from him some facts 
that I never before had heard. He told how 
they felt when Aajor Irwin passed through the 
Kankakee swamps, notifying them to be ready 
to start for their new home beyond the /Aisssis- 
sippi river. I obtained much valuable informa- 
tion from those two old warriors. One of them 
then was a young warrior of seventeen summers. 
He was with Elskwat-awa, the Prophet, when 
they sent Winamac down the Wabash river to 
Vincennes where they went in council circle 
with Gen. Harrison. Later they both fought and 
were survivors of the Battle of Tippecanoe, 

22 



THE DEFEAT OF THE POTTO WOTTO MIES 

which forever shattered the stronghold of the 
AViami Confederacy. He told how the army 
was encamped on a tract of marsh land near 
the river, in the shape of a flat-iron, how they 
were defeated. There were two men, one white 
and the other a redman, who worked with all 
energy to defeat the scheme of Tecumseh and 
Els-kwat-awa. These were General Harrison 
and the chief, Winamac. The former sent con- 
stant messengers from among French settlers 
of the territory through all this Kankakee region, 
counseling peace, and hoped through their 
strength and influence to disarm all hostile feel- 
ings. At the same time the latter, one of the 
noblest of his race, devoted all his efforts to se- 
curing peace, Sometime in May, 1811, a large 
number of the Pottowattomies from this region 
assembled at a place called the "Cow Pasture" 
on the St. Joseph River, and were only prevent- 
ed from joining the followers of Tecumseh and 
the Open-Door by the pleading eloquence of 
the venerable Winamac. A few months later 

23 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
Tecumseh departed for the South to solicit aid 
of other tribes to develop his scheme for a great 
confederacy, While he was gone Open Door 
sent out messengers to the Pottowattomie's 
lands, calling upon the natives to join his forces, 
A large number of the inhabitants of the Kanka- 
kee region formed in line of march and passed 
down through the prairie marshes to the Potto- 
wattomie Ford, crossed the Kankakee, then on 
through to the Prophet's town. Winamac was 
sent to Governor Harrison with a message of 
peace. This is where the crafty Prophet got in 
his deceitful work and was now free to effect his 
purpose. As preparation was made for the war 
the women and children were sent to the North 
for safety. Many were hidden in caves in the 
sand hills along the Tippecanoe River near 
where the City of Winamac now stands. Others 
came in large numbers to the Kankakee swamps 
and remained hidden in its recesses to await the 
tide of war. Hundreds of defenseless women 
and children thronged to the shores of our his- 

24 



THE DEFEAT OF THE PO TTOWOTTOM1KS 
toric river and waited many weary days of 
watching and long nights of pain from hunger 
and fatigue for the return of the braves, many of 
whom were never to come. The result of the 
Battle of Tippecanoe is well known. The be- 
trayed and defeated Pottowattomies returned to 
their homes. Many regretted that act against 
Ihe whites whilst many others were incited by 
the crafty British to a desire for revenge and 
here was laid the plot for another great tragedy, 
the doom of Fort Dearborn. Less than two 
years after their defeat at the Battle of Tippe- 
canoe, the garrison at Fort Dearborn was at- 
tached and three-fourths of their number killed. 
The survivors surrendered with the promise of 
their captors to spare their lives. This promise 
was broken. Captain Wells' horse was shot 
from under him. As he fell an Indian ran up 
and stabbed him in the back and he died in the 
arms of his Pottowattomie friends. The history 
of the Fort Dearborn massacre is one of the 
saddest Indian tragedies of the Pottowattomie 

25 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
lands that was ever placed on the pages of his- 
tory. We will ship a period of eight years over 
Fottowattomie land. No events of any great 
importance occured then. Indian Territory be- 
came a State, Fort Dearborn was again garri- 
soned. The French held the ascendancy in 
influence in this region and were held in the 
highest regard by the Indians. In 1821 the 
white hunters began to come to the Kankakee 
region. The day before General Harrison start- 
ed on his march up the Wabash to meet the 
Prophet, two young men volunteered to join the 
army, by the names of Daniel Scott and /Aike 
Haskins. They had a cousin in the army, an 
officer named Atwood, who was wounded at the 
Battle of Tippecanoe. Having a broken leg, he 
was picked up and carried away to the Kanka- 
kee swamps, about sixty miles distant, and was 
cared for by a squaw, taking the place of her 
son who had been killed, In 1821 Scott and 
Haskins came north to the Kankakee region in 
search of their lost relative. As there was a 

26 



THE DEFEAT OF THE POTTO WOTTO MIES 

large estate to be settled back in Ohio it was 
necessary to know his whereabouts. Scott and 
Haskins made every effort to find him alive, if 
they could, or where he was buried if possible- 
They brought with them such trinkets as the 
Indians usually wants, such as pipes, tobacco, 
knives, needles, etc. They got in with the na- 
tives by giving them these goods for very little 
or nothing. By kindness they gained their 
friendship. Scott opened a store at Bengaul but 
when the English come they called it Tass- 
naugh. This was the first trading post in this 
region and was an ancient village when the 
French had established a trading post in long 
years past, before even the Fottowattomie re- 
volt. It was on the old Pottowattomie trail lead- 
ing from the Kankakee River to the Lakes. In 
the early summer, after the hunting season was 
over for the fur bearing animals, the Indians 
would pack their furs, then with their women 
and children they would start north for the lakes 
to meet the French fur trading boats which came 

27 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
down to the lower lake region to trade with 
them for their furs. During the summer season 
they fished and picked berries, as these were 
what they lived on mostly during the heated 
seasons. In the fall they would return to the 
Kankakee hunting grounds where one of their 
main camps was located on a long point of the 
mainland or ridge that projected far out into the 
swamp and near the mouth of Sandy Hook. 
This place was known as "Indian Garden" and 
hundreds of Indians camped there during the 
hunting seasons. There was another Indian 
camping ground a few miles below this on the 
same side of the river known as the "Indian Is- 
land," and of which I will speak later on. Scott 
having his store on this old Indian trail brought 
him face to face with hundreds of Pottowatto- 
mies, while Haskins camped and hunted for 
nearly two years and was the first white hunter 
to camp on Indian Island. Scott sold his store 
to a Frenchman, then he and Haskins returned 
to the East. They never heard or got trace of 

28 



THE DEFEAT OF THE POTTO WOTTO MIES 
their lost relative, As I have said before im- 
mense fortunes were now made by trading with 
the Indians in all parts of this country. Early in 
1821 two men acting in this capacity became 
well known and remarkable for their wealth and 
influence through all the Kankakee country. 
They were Joseph Bailie and Pierre P. Navarre. 
As there is usually in these early time stories a 
little love and romance, this is what happened 
to these men. In accordance with the general 
custom among traders both married daughters 
of native chieftans. After a time Bailie settled 
on the prairie north of the river in what after- 
wards was Porter county, and near the site of 
where Valparaiso now stands. The place was 
called Baily Town and is still a well-known 
point in Porter county. Navarre settled at 
Michigan City for a time and then moved to the 
banks of the St. Joseph River. Ar. Bailie, or 
Bailly as he was generally called, was a native 
of Prance. It was in 1822 that he first settled 
in Bailly Town and for the next eleven years he 

29 



PIONEER HUNTERS OE THE KANKAKEE 
was the only white man within the country 
limits. His family consisted of a wife and four 
daughters. As the years passed by he became 
very wealthy, so much so that he purchased a 
sloop and was thus enabled to take his children 
east to give them the advantage of a thorough 
education and culture. Eleanor, the oldest, took 
the veil and was for many years Mother Super- 
ior of St. Mary's School at Terre Haute, Indiana. 
There have been many treaties made with the 
Pottowattomies. one made in 1832 and one in 
1836. By the former treaties the Pottowatto- 
mies conceded to the United States all the 
country situated between the mouth of the Tip- 
pecanoe River, running up the river twenty-five 
miles, thence to the Wabash river, thence across 
to the Vermillion river. This was known as the 
St. Mary's Treaty. By this treaty the Kankakee 
region formed a part of the domain of the Pot- 
towattomie Indians, although they were of the 
Miami's Confederacy and the Miamis claimed 
the land by right of occupancy. The Pottowat- 

30 



THE DEFEAT OF THE POTTOWOTTOMIES 
tomies held possession when the whites beean 
to settle the country and it was with them that 
the United States government treatied in 1836. 
The remainder of the territory now was on the 
Pichamick and Kankakee rivers. The /Aiamis 
held claim to all the territory in the northwest 
part of the State. By the terms of the second 
and last treaty the Fottowattomies ceded all 
their lands to the United States Government and 
agreed to relinquish the territory when called up- 
on to do so. This was called the Aississinawa 
Treaty and was made on the treaty grounds 
near the headwaters of the Kankakee. The 
Pottowattomies left the Kankakee swamps for 
their new home toward the Sunset, to the land 
that was given them for their own and was 
theirs as long as the sun shines and the rain 
falls. But their Great Father at Washington 
changed his mind and a few years later they 
were removed to the Indian Territory, The War 
Department allowed a few to remain, those who 
had distinguished themselves as friends to the 

31 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
whites during the early Indian troubles. In 1836 
a man by the name of Robinson, of French and 
Indian nationality, was the chief feader, and had 
absolute control over all the Pottowattomies 
from the year of 1825. In 1836 he assembled 
his tribes to the number of five thousand near 
Chicago for the last time. He was known to 
his people as Chief Che-Bing-Way. I have 
thus presented an account of the Potto watto- 
mie's land as it appeared at the time of the 
whites immigration to this region, 



32 



CHAPTER IV 
SETTING STEEL TRAPS 

THE WHITE MAN SETTLING 

THE COUNTRY VACATED BY THE INDIANS 

AND THE FIRST TRAPPER TO SET 

STEEL TRAPS ON THE KANKAKEE 

The history of the region of the Kankakee 
country under the Aborignies is told. The great 
/Aiami Republic fell before the Republic of the 
East, and it became the obvious destiny of the 
nations to yield to the strongest race. The year 
"33" marked the advent of the first white fami- 
lies from the East. The first settlers to arrive 
were the /Aorgan Brothers, Isaac and William, 
who came early in the summer from Wayne 
County' Ohio, and settled on a prairie, after- 
wards known as Morgan Prairie. It is on the 
east side of Sandy Hook and a few miles from 

33 



THE PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
the Kankakee river. Two years later my 
Grandfather Dye came from Holmes County, 
Ohio, and settled on a prairie on the west side 
of Sandy Hook, which is now known as Horse 
Prairie, He was the first white settler in what is 
now Boone township. Ay mother at that time 
was only five years of age and she remembers 
seeing many of the Fottowattomies. Her arri- 
val in the Kankakee country antedating that of 
my father is more than fifteen years. In the 
next decade many settlers were found in this 
part of the country. Game was plentiful and in 
every cabin was found a rifle or two. From 
some of these pioneer homes came the early 
hunters and trappers of this story. Hence, "The 
Ffoneer Hunters of the Kankakee" is the title of 
my story. In the outset of this story I had in 
mind only a short story of the early trappers and 
hunters. But I have detoured out over more 
territory than I expected. If I were to give a 
graphic sketch of all the men who have hunted 
and trapped on the Kankakee it would fill vol- 

34 



SETTING STEEL TKAPS 

umes. Therefore I will speak only of a few of 
the earliest pioneers. As I have said fur traders 
in those early days became immensely rich and 
the Kankakee Region in an early day was the 
greatest hunting ground in the Middle West, 
especially for the fur-beasing animals. As gold 
and gems was the magnet that attracted our 
Hoosier folks to the Par West, so it was the fur 
trade that brought the early explorers to the 
Kankakee region. The Indians caught the furs 
and traded them to the new-comers for trinkets. 
Then began the greatest trade that this part of 
Indiana ever knew. New types of persons were 
brought into existence in the new country by 
the new trade and it is some of these I am go- 
ing to tell you about in this new story, as the 
history of the Kankakee fur trade is one of the 
brightest pages of its history. In the fall of "45" 
Harrison Hartz Polsom and Rens Brainard, two 
young men came from Ohio with their parents. 
In 1840 they settled on the prairie north of the 
Kankakee Swamp. Having some idea how 

35 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
profitable a business it was trapping the fur- 
bearing animals, they embarked in that busi- 
ness. First each of them made a butter-nut 
dugout. Then they wenl to a blacksmith by the 
name of Alyes who had settled in this region in 
the early "30" and had opened a blacksmith 
shop on his homestead, and who also kept a 
cross-road store a few miles east of the Indian 
Town, now Hebron, and engaged him to make 
them three dozen steel rat-traps at one dollar 
each, and four two-spring otter traps, or wolf 
traps as they are sometimes called, at three dol- 
lars each. These were the first steel traps made 
and set in the Kankakee country. On the first 
of October they launched their dugouts and 
trapping outfit off Coal Fitt Island, a small island 
in the north marsh where for many years Jones 
and Smith had their charcoal pits. They pad- 
dled their dugouts up the marsh along the tim- 
ber line until they came to North Bend. In the 
early days it was called Flag Fond but was 
known to the old river men as North Bend from 

36 



SETTING STEEL TRAPS 

the fact that at this point fhe Kankakee flows 
the farthest north of its entire course. At this 
point there is an opening through the timber to 
the river. They ascended the river a few miles. 
When night came upon them they landed on a 
small ridge near the mouth of Crooked Creek. 
They soon had a frail camp and a glowing camp 
fire. When they landed on the ridge Brainard 
shot two young fox squirrels and with what pro- 
visions they had brought with them they soon 
had a good supper. After supper they gathered 
up some withered herbage, spread their blankets 
and lay down for a night's rest in the lone, si- 
lent, solitary, stillness of the Kankakee swamps, 
to be lured to sleep by the hoot-owl, the howl- 
ing of the wolves and the splashing of the musk- 
rats in the water near the camp. This was the 
first night's experience of two of the oldest trap- 
pers in years of service on the Kankakee. On 
the following day they set out their -traps and 
looked for a suitable place to build their shanty. 
Mr. Folsom took part of the traps and went up 

37 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
the river. Brainard took the remainder and 
went down stream, They returned to camp in 
the afternoon and reported their trip and pros- 
pect oi a building site. Brainard had found a 
beautiful small island near the river on a bayou 
which he thought would be a very suitable spot 
for a shanty. Folsom, on his hunt up stream, 
had found the material to build the shanty. He 
had found an old wigwam made of puncheon 
and barks, well dried and smoked. In a short 
time they had a cozy little trappers' shanty on 
an island they named "Little Paradise," which 
is yet known by that name today. This was 
the first American trapper's shanty on the Kan- 
kakee that I have any knowledge of. There 
were a few French huts and traders' shanties 
along the borders of the swamp regions for the 
purpose of trading and trafficing with the Indians 
and the early hunters. Twenty years prior to 
the building of the shanty on Paradise Island 
the fall catch of furs at Little Paradise proved a 
success, The sale of furs brought something 

38 




Pioneer Trapper's Shanty on Little Paradise Island, where 
the first steel traps were set on the Kankakee in 1845 



SETTING STEEL TRAPS 

over one hundred and twenty-five dollars. They 
invested part oi the money in more traps and in 
the following winter built a shanty on Little 
Beach Ridge in which they shantied for four 
seasons. On this ridge they found a hunter's 
shanty occupied by a man named Ritter, who 
had built it the year before, in 1846. In 1851 
Folsora and Brainard built a shanty on Long 
Ridge which they used until 1866. Then they 
sold out and left Long Ridge. Folsom then 
went into partnership with William Granger, 
They built a cabin on Red Oak. This cabin 
was burned in "73." They rebuilt it the fol- 
lowing year and used it until he retired from the 
trapping business in 1883, having spent a third 
of a century in the Kankakee swamps. Uncle 
Marl Seymour, as he was calied, who had been 
with him for many years, continued trapping the 
Red Oak ground until old age compelled him 
to quit. He left his island home on the Kan- 
kakee and spent the remaining years of his life 
at the home of /Ar. Folsom at Hebron, Indiana. 

39 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
Brainard, who was with Folsom on his early 
expeditions on the river and when he sold out 
on Long Ridge, built a shanty on Grape Island, 
where he trapped for several years. Then he 
trapped the Little Beach ground for three or 
four years. Finally he quit trapping altogether 
about thirty years ago. Folsom and Brainard 
were the pioneer trappers who first sat steel 
traps on the Kankakee River over seventy-five 
years ago, The next decade found many hunt- 
ers and trappers along the Kankakee swamps. 
In the fall of 1847 Aose Summers and John 
Dusenberg glided down the winding Kankakee 
in skiffs with a trapping outfit and landed at 
Long Ridge, built a shanty which was the first 
trapper's shanty on the Ridge. They used this 
shanty for a number of years. Leaving Long 
Ridge they shantied on a number of islands be- 
tween English Lake and AVomence, Illinois. 
This same year Joel Gfison built a log shanty on 
Long Ridge and followed the trapping business 
for many years. He had two sons who also 

40 



SETTING STEEL TRAPS 

were trappers and trapped many years after 
their father had retired. There was another old 
time hunter whose lochs were as white as the 
driven snow when I first knew him. Me had 
settled on Long Ridge in the Pall of 1838, and 
dug a cave in the side of the Ridge where he 
lived for many years. Fifty years ago this old 
hunter was known as Uncle Frank Sweny. He 
was the oldest residential hunter and trapper on 
the -river, having commenced hunting on the 
Kankakee as early as 1833. William Bissell, 
one of thepioneer settlers of Porter county, spent 
much time hunting on the Kankakee in the 
early days. In the early Fall of 1847 Heck 
Goodridge and his brother John built a shanty 

on French Island. This was the first American 

i 

trapper's shanty. The French and Indian 
hunters had settled on this island many years 
before the arrival of the Qoodridges and from 
whence it derived its name. I will give more of 
its early history later on. In 185 2 John Broady 
an early pioneer of this region, began trapping 

41 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
on Sandy Hook, also he trapped the Crooked 
Creek Claim. Later on he owned the Indian 
Garden trapping ground which he sold to Sam- 
uel Irvin in the early seventies. Mr. Broady 
was a very successful hunter and trapper He 
never trapped any after selling out his claims 
but continued hunting on the Kankakee up to 
the time of his death which occured in 1878 
from a severe cold from the effects of getting wet 
by falling through the ice in a bayou, on a very 
cold day whilst hunting deer, /Ar. Broady was 
widely known as a deer hunter, having led 
many hunting parties through the swamps in 
those early days. It was about this time that 
my father came to the Kankakee region and for 
many years he and /Ar. Broady were hunting 
partners and have been together on many deer 
hunts through the Kankakee Swamps. In 1852 
Gideon Alyea, son of the old trap maker, built a 
shanty on Butter Nut Ridge and trapped this 
ground for many years. Leaving the Butter Nut 
he built a shanty on what is now known as 

42 



SETTING STEEL TRAPS 

Shanty Island. Me also built a shanty on 
Fryes Island and one on Cornell's Uppr Island. 
He followed the business until old age com- 
pelled him to retire. In 1847 William Uncle 
Bill Adams, with his parents, settled near He- 
bron and five years later he went in the swamps 
as a shanty boy with Ar. Folsom, handling furs. 
Two years later he went into the trapping busi- 
ness for himself and in "61" he answered the 
call to the Colors and served his country up to 
the close of the war. Returning home he went 
into the swamps again hunting and trapping un- 
til some time in the 90's, when he retired. In 
1850, Isaac Cornell built a log cabin on Cor- 
nell's Island for rail makers who were making 
rails for him and a few years later an old Indian 
lived in it and hunted game. In the early 50's 
Hunter Rice and Harman Granger built a shanty 
on a small ridge lying between Red Oak and 
Bucks Ridge, known as Rice's Ridge, and for 
many years it was used as a trapper's shanty. 
/Aany years ago there were some deer hunters 

43 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
camped on this ridge and there was an old ca- 
noe there that they would cross the river in to 
hunt, as there were more deer on the north side 
than on the south side. One man in the party 
became dizzy-headed and sea-sick so easily 
that they had to lay him down in the bottom of 
the canoe and sit on him to Keep him from fall- 
ing out. 

Bucks Ridge was for many years the home 
of the Brockways. They were a very interesting 
family, consisting of a father and mother, two 
sons, a beautiful daughter and a little boy eight 
or ten years old. They had settled there many 
years before and seemed to enjoy their wild life, 
as they were hunters and trappers. From them 
we obtained some potatoes and corn bread. 
The youngest of the hunting party fell in love 
with this young damsel and we thought it was 
going to be a match, but they did not come to 
time. They parted with many bitter tears, 
never to meet again as the mother would not 
part with her darling child. 

44 



SETTING STEEL TRAPS 
After having a good time we all returned 
home, proud, with plenty oi game. Aany ware 
the hunts I took after that. I have often thought 
of what became of that pretty, fair-haired girl of 
the Kankakee, and for all I know she may be 
with the angels in Heaven, as I have not heard 
from the Brockways since, In the language of 
AVaud Auller, "Of all sad words of tongue or 
pen, the saddest of these, it might have been," 



45 



CHAPTER V 
DIVIDING THE GAME 

KILLING DEER WITH PITCHFORKS 

AND CORN KNIVES ON BOGUS ISLAND 

AND HOW WE HUNTED AND DIVIDED 

GAME IN PIONEER DAYS 

In the cold winter oi 1838, many years before 
Beaver Lake in Newton County, Indiana, was 
drained, there was an island at the west end of 
the lake called Bogus Island from the fact that 
it was the home of the outlaws and despera- 
does. Bogus Island, as this island has been 
known for many years, was the last refuge of 
the counterfeiters of the picturesque era of our 
rxankakee life. Here, until comparatively re- 
cent years, the robber, the counterfeiter, the 
horse thief, the highwayman of the swamps and 
the "bad man" of the frontier found safe retreat 

46 



DIVIDING THE GAME 

in this partly wooded island and in the rolling 
waters of this beautiful lake. Even the Federal 
officers in pursuit were baffled here. Tor years 
the outlaws lived in safety on wild game and at 
times would raid the country-side to look at a 
pioneer's horse. With the draining of Beaver 
Lake, Bogus Island entered upon its final des- 
tiny, The island at one place was only about a 
quarter of a mile from the mainland. In the dry 
season the water was very shallow and all kinds 
of game: deer, wolves and fox, could wade or 
swim to the island. The cold winter froze the 
lake over and the ice around the island was 
slick and glaring, with the island full of deer, 
wolf and much small game. Well all old hunt- 
ers know that deer or any other cloven-footed 
animal, when chased, cannot stand or run on 
glary or slick ice. Consequently they are at the 
mercy of anyone who comes along. Notice 
was sent out far and wide over the prairies and 
sand ridges and hunters' cabin along the Kan- 
kakee. Allen Dutcher, Raus Allen, Sam Har- 

47 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
rison, Bill Thayer, Sam /AcFadden and many 
other pioneer hunters whose names I have for- 
gotten were there. S. L. AcFadden was there 
with his father and was only twelve years old. 
In his narrative of the hunt, as he related it to 
me, he said: "I will never forget it as I came 
near freezing to death going home from the hunt 
and we got so deer that we could not take care 
of them or get them home as we had no means 
of conveyance in those days. We carried some 
but pulled the most of them out on a hand-sled. 
As I have said before, the island was alive with 
deer. The hunters, trappers and squattors 
gathered in with guns. The oid cap and ball 
rifle were used. With dogs, clubs, tomahawks, 
pitchforks and corn-knives the massacre com- 
menced at early morning and at sundown the 
battle closed. The crowd consisted of about 
twenty-five men and boys and two women. 
One of the women killed a deer with a pitch- 
fork. The party in all killed sixty-five deer, 
seven wolves and two or three foxes, Wolves 

48 



DIVIDING THE GAME 

and foxes can run on glary ice so many of them 
got away, and fully as many deer got away as 
were killed, by slipping and sliding towards the 
shore. There were so many that they could not 
kill them all at once, consequently that gave 
many a chance to escape, Only one man was 
hurt in the fight and he would have been killed 
by a big buck had he not been rescued in time. 
The buck was killed with a corn knife. The 
wounded hunter was placed on a litter and car- 
ried to his cabin on the Kankakee at what was 
at that time known as Harrison's Landing. 
After years the place was called Thayers and 
was near where the Grangers years after had 
their trapping shanty on Grape Island. We 
used to camp near their cabin on the river many 
years after the big hunt on Bogus Island. That 
deer hunt beat the world. Now I am going to 
tell you how we used to hunt and divide the 
game. After the hunt is all over the most in- 
teresting of all is the dividing of the game on the 
square. Sometimes there is a great deal of 

49 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
skull-dugery in the matter and you have got to 
keep your eyes skinned and look out for break- 
ers. Now for the mode of dividing the spoil. 
Before shot-guns were in use and rifles were all 
the go, hunters' law was that the men who drew 
first blood took the hide and half the meat, but 
when shot-guns came in vogue and all had to 
drive and shoot to kill the deer we thought that 
the old law as to rifles was not just. So we 
held a Council of War on the Kankakee one 
time and, after mature deliberation, we changed 
it and decided that in hunting altogether with 
shot-guns and rifles, the man who drew first 
blood was entitled to the hide but the meat and 
game should be divided equally among all. 
When we got ready to divide, the game is divid- 
ed in as many shares as there are hunters. One 
turns his back to the game and another points 
at each pile in turn and also asks whose it is. 
And the one with his back turned says who is 
entitled to the pile or bunch pointed at. But 
sometimes a heavy accent of signal by the one 

50 



DIVIDING THE GAME 

who points out is understood by the man whose 
back is turned. They sometimes give them- 
selves the best pile of game. And I am sorry 
to say that I have sometimes been a victim of 
misplaced confidence in that way and cheated 
out of my fair share of the game. But there 
v/as no use to squeal about it as they would 
only laugh you out of it and say that you ought 
to have better luck. I have told you how we 
killed deer and divided game. Now one great 
question among us was in reference to still or 
noisy hunting. The Indians always still hunt, 
that is they keep perfectly quiet and motionless 
and wait for the game to come along. Or they 
sneak quietly upon the game. I learned this 
mode of hunting with the Indians on the West- 
ern plains, hunting buffalo and antelope in the 
open country many years ago. You can hunt 
with an Indian all day and he will scarcely say 
a word. With over fifty years experience in 
hunting both in the forest and in the open coun- 
try I must say that the white man must take off 

51 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
his hat to the Red Man when it comes to the 
scientific mode of hunting wild game. As a 
matter of course in driving in thickets, marshes 
and ridges we had to make all the noise we 
could to get the deer out. But this was the 
question. In coming in at night a majoriry of 
the hunters would ieave loads in their guns, in 
the day of the muzzle loader, all night and get 
up in the morning before daybreak and fire them 
off, wakening the whole country for miles around 
for the purpose of cleaning their guns and put- 
ting fresh loads in so they would not miss fire. 
Whilst I contended that doing so in the morning 
put every deer within hearing of the camp on 
the alert and look out for danger, and the least 
noise we made in the morning was the best. 
But a majority decided against me but I never 
gave up. A gun well taken care of will not miss 
fire if not shot off for a week, I never did like to 
hunt with a noisy camp and 1 most always got 
the most game by keeping still, One time in 
moving camp two of the party decided to take a 

52 



DIVIDING THE GAME 

near cut and hunt through the woods and join 
the camp at night, But they got lost and we 
fired signal guns and built a big fire. Finally 
they arrived long after night, tired and weary 
and almost exhausted. Whilst the men were 
lost three wild geese flew over them. They fired 
several shots and succeeded in bringing down 
one. After hunting for it for some time they 
found it had fallen in an old deserted well of 
some hunter or trapper, perhaps the only one 
around for miles. They brought it into camp, 
that is the goose not the well, and we moralized 
on the subject. They might try for one thous- 
and years to kill a wild goose and have it fall 
into that well again and not succeed. Now was 
it Providence or Chance that governed in this 
case? While I want to be a Christian and bz- 
lieve everything that is good and true 1 could 
understand special Providence that 1 hear talked 
so much about. In some cases a man a half 
inch too far away is killed and another half an 
inch another escapes. And by the least little 

53 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
thing men and women and poor, little, innocent 
children, through no fault of theirs, are hilled. 
And others by the most trifling thing escape. I 
have seen the meanest and wickedest person 
have a splendid and beautiful day for their 
funeral and I have seen the friends of the Lord 
poor and the good Christian people almost 
frozen to death or drowned in burying their dead. 
The great moral question with me is, was this 
earth gotten up especially for the benefit of /Aen, 
or was it only an after-thought. The revolution 
of the sun, moon and stars are perfect to a 
second. But when we come down to the law 
governing our little Earth we all imperfection, 
one law creating, another destroying. It is noth- 
ing but a war of the elements and a law of des- 
truction between every living thing. There is no 
safety or security in any place or thing. It is 
said what a beautiful act of Providence it was 
that He created one set of animals and birds to 
keep one another set down or the world would 
be over-run with them. This is about the way 

54 



DIVIDING THE GAME 

with some of the human family, destroying one 
another with war and murder while Providence 
with pestilence, famine and accidents keeps the 
human family from over-running the earth. 
I have noticed when a vessel goes down at sea, 
loaded down with precious freight, that Provi- 
dence always seems to be on the side of 
the strongest who are good swimmers, whilst 
the poor helpless women and little children are 
lost. If Providence had anything to do with it 
He would have kept the boat from going down. 
Some years ago on a western railroad a pas- 
senger train conveying a large number of Di- 
vines to a Conference or Synod ran over some 
cattle on a high grade and threw the cars down 
a steep enbankment. Fortunately no one was 
killed and the Divines came out with a card 
thanking Providence for their safety. The su- 
perintendent also came out with a card and said 
that if Providence had anything to do with it He 
would have kept the cattle off the track in the 
fust place. So you see how it goes. In my 

55 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
hunting experience for many years I have found 
more special cases of special Providence for the 
animals and birds than I ever saw for the human 
family. I will tell you of a stubbed tailed brindle 
dog that belonged to one of the party. Whilst 
out hunting he ran the deer out of a thicket to 
me and I did not shoot for laughing at one of 
the boys who was so excited that he could not 
shoot because the deer ran within a few yards of 
him. Just at that time the thought came to him 
that he had left camp without any bullets. His 
father was some distance away when he called 
aloud: "Daddy, have you got the bullets?" This 
frightened the deer and he turned toward me. 
The dog came up, looked me in the face as 
much to say, "Aint you ashamed of yourself for 
letting that deer get away?" And he turned and 
left me as other friends had left me before, and 
would not drive any more deer to me until I had 
redeemed myself. I will tell you how that was 
done. Another time we were out hunting and 
as I was on the left flank half a mile from the 

56 



DIVIDING THE GAME 

rest of the party I heard a noise and looking 
around I saw a large buck coming straight to- 
ward me and the dog right after him, He came 
up to within fifty yards of me and then turned 
off to the left. I got up out of the grass, gave 
him both barrels and saw every shot strike him 
in the side. He ran about seventy yards and 
tumbled. The dog came up and saw what I 
had done and looked me in the face and wagged 
his srub-tail as much as to say, "You are a 
bully boy with a glass eye and have done the 
right thing this time and I will stand by you." 
And he did, He stayed with me all that day. 
Some say that animals have instinct only and 
not sense. Talk about instinct, Here is a gen- 
uine, clear, solid sense and no fooling about it. 
I believe that some animals have sense and 
reasoning faculties as well as the human family 
and far excel them in some things, protecting 
their young and obtaining food and shelter for 
them. I will now relate the nearest special 
providence and sense in any animal that 1 ever 

57 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
saw. This is the young fawn or deer. When 
it comes forth it is the most helpless thing in the 
world and the least animal in the world could 
kill it. And now comes the most wonderful 
part of all and is true as holy writ. From the 
time the fawn is born until it is able to run it has 
no scent or smell. All kinds of ferocious ani- 
mals, wolves, wild-cats, dogs, will pass it within 
a few feet and will not detect it unless they see 
it. The fawn lies in the most secluded and out 
of the way places imaginable, and will lie per- 
fectly still all day without moving, in the same 
place where its mother left in the morning. The 
doe stays near and watches it all night but 
leaves it early in the morning and stays away 
all day, only returning at nightfall to suckle and 
nourish it, knowing full well that if found near it 
in day time her presence might lead to its dis- 
covery. But what a wonderful provision is 
providence, sense or instinct that keeps that 
little helpless animal still, away from its mother 
all day. You may pass within a few feet of 

58 



DIVIDING THE GAME 

them and they will not move. Father told me 
that while hunting on the North Aarsh he 
stepped over two of them in the grass before 
they ran, whilst he was looking for a squirrel fox. 
If you find one when very young you can pick it 
up and carry it a short distance and then let it 
down and it will follow you home like a dog and 
become very tame. Another time we were 
hunting and the dog ran a deer out of the thicket 
and we all fired and wounded it, making enough 
noise to drive all the deer out of the country. 
We followed the wounded deer a short distance 
and got it, After hunting around for awhile we 
started for camp. In the evening our route to 
camp took us by the same thicket from which 
we started the deer in the morning. We were 
scattered out, tired and weary, taking our time 
to it. One of the party was some distance be- 
hind and near the thicket in the marsh. On 
turning around I saw him aiming at something 
ten or fifteen feet from him in the grass. He 
fired and killed what he supposed was a rabbit, 

59 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
but he came to find out that it was a young deer 
that had hidden there all day in the grass near 
the thicket where we had fired three shots in 
the morning. All this noise and firing had not 
disturbed it or made it move, and this is more 
than a young of the human family could have 
done without squalling and making a fuss, So 
it is with the birds. The same special Provi- 
dence that guides and protects the animals does 
likewise to the feathery tribes. Rambling 
through the woods and over the marshes one 
often finds a covey of quail or a brood of 
pheasants. To sec how the mother bird pro- 
tects her young; she will flop and flutter to at- 
tract your attention from the young birds so that 
you would think she had both wfngs broken, 
fluttering just far enough to keep out of your 
reach, long enough for the young birds to skulk 
away and hide in the grass, Take a stroll 
through the woods in the Springtime and you 
will smile at the swinging birds with your wise, 
amused pity, who builds her tiny nest with such 

60 



DIVIDING THE GAME 

laborious care, high up out on the moving tree 
top, only to be blown away by the chilly autumn 
winds. But are not the homes of the human 
family, the sweetest homes of our tenderest love 
built upon just as insecure a foundation, hang- 
ing over some mysterious depths, and rocked to 
and fro only to be swept away into ruin. And 
yet He who has provided a balmy South as a 
refuge for the summer birds to which they can 
fly, has He not provided likewise a shelter for 
the human family? I might write a book on 
"Special Providence for Animals and Birds" but 
1 will leave that for the naturalist, 



61 



CHAPTER VI 
MY FIRST BOAT RIDE 

MY FIRST FISHING 

TRIP TO THE KANKAKEE 

AND MY FIRST BOAT RIDE AND 

EARLY EXPERIENCES WITH 

A SHOT GUN 

Tofshorten up a story that is already too long 
is somewhat of a task. When I found that i 
have considerable more material than I can in- 
sert in this little book and unless I cut out some 
of the details there is dangers of slopping over. 
Therefore, I will have to hold myself down to 
the mere facts. Since the newspapers and 
magazines have been offering prizes for the best 
fish stories some of the anglers have caught 
bigger fish stories than they did fish. Just see 
what this angling game is coming to when a man 
has to make an affidavit and give advance no- 

62 



MY FIRST BOAT RIDE 

tice he is telling the truth before he dare open 
his mouth about fishing, Jusf because my 
pencil happened to slip once v/hen I was de- 
scribing a fishing trip on the Cottenwood River 
in Northern Minnesota many years ago is no 
sign I cannot tell the nude, naked truth if I try 
hard enough. I am and always have been a 
'dyed" in the wool crank on fishing ever since 
boyhood. 1 began my first fishing in a small 
creek that ran near our cabin. Ay first fishing 
outfit consisted of a red willow pole, a shoestring 
line and a bent pin for a hook. Grasshoppers, 
grub worms and angle worms were the bait. 
Chubs and sun-fish were the kind of fish I 
caught, if any. Sometimes 1 would go fishing 
at night for cat-fish, and do very well until that 
big swamp owl would hoot "Who are you," and 
that would end my fishing for that night. The 
summer that I was eight years old Father took 
rrfe wrth him to the Kankakee. We were fish- 
ing from the bank at North Bend, which I have 
mentioned before Whilst we were fishing 

63 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANK.AKEE 
Samuel Irvin, a trapper, came floating down the 
river in a skiff. This was the first water craft I 
had ever seen. /Ar. Irvin landed his boat and 
he and father, being old friends, sat on the bank 
in the shade talking whilst I was fishing part of 
the time and climbing swamp trees until I got 
tired. Finally I made known my desire 'to ride 
in one of those things the boat. Father told 
me to get in and sit down in the bottom of the 
boat. I did and then he got into the boat and 
shoved it out into the stream. We went down 
around the bend and back to where we started, 
I have often thought of sitting in the bottom of 
the boat and grasping the sides so tight that I 
dented the sides of the boat with my fingers to 
keep from falling out when there was no danger 
of falling out unless the boat upset. This was 
my first fishing trip to the Kankakee River and 
my first boat ride. Near this same place fifty 
years later Father ran me on my last duck hunt- 
ing trip on the Kankakee. He was then over 
four-score years of age, yet he could handle a 

64 



MY FIRST BOAT RIDE 

hunting boat then as well as he did when he 
gave me my first boat ride. Among the earliest 
recollections of my boyhood hunting with a gun 
are a few of my first shots. In 1869 Fathes 
bought a new heavy number ten double-barrel 
muzzle-loading shot gun. Breach-loaders were 
not so numerous then as now. It was so heavy 
that 1 could not hold it to load or shoot. Yet I 
was anxious to shoot it once. One day I was 
out in the woods near the house gsthering hick- 
ory nuts and the dog treed a black squirrel. 
Father was home and I got him to let me shoot 
it. He put in a light load as the squirrel was on 
a small tree and not very high up. Then put- 
ting his thumb around a small bush and letting 
his fingers open, lying the gun on his fingers 
against the bush, which made a good rest, he 
soon initiated me in the mysteries of handling a 
gun. He told me to look along the barrel until 
I saw the squirrel, then to pull the trigger, This 
I did. Bang! The recoil knocked me down. 
When I got up my nose was bleeding quite free- 

65 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
ly, but I went and picked up my squirrel. Father 
said I was initiated. I am sure it was a labor oi 
love on his part and I made repeated progress 
under his tutoring. That same Fall I began my 
practicing on wing shots, Near our house and 
between the main land and swamp timber was 
a strip oi open marsh. This was a great fly- 
way for ducks, from the north bend of the river 
across to Sandy Hook. One afternoon 1 took 
the gun out on this fly-way, hid behind some 
pucker bush, shot and killed the first duck that 
came along which happened to be a Grey Mal- 
lard or Greenhead. I waded out in the marsh. 
The water was about two feet deep and cold, as 
it was late in November. It was the proudest 
moment in my life. I took the duck to the 
house, Father being away from home. Mother 
wanted to have it for supper but I would not 
have it that way. I wanted Father to see it, 
feathers and all. As I have said, it was the 
proudest moment of my life when I showed the 
bird to my Father, It was my first game bird. 

66 



MY FIRST BOAT RIDE 

Ay boyish heart swelled with pride. Ay great- 
est desire had been gratified. I found I had ac- 
quired the "knack" and from that time on I be- 
came a "wing shot." I was the only boy in the 
neighborhood that could shoot "flying." I was 
greatly envied by my boy chums. Aany of 
them were much older than I, so much so that 
one day I overheard one of our neighbors say to 
his wife, "Werich will ruin that boy by letting him 
run around totting a gun all the time. They'd a 
darn sight better keep him at work doing some- 
thing worth while." A few years later when 
breech loaders became more plentiful Father 
bought one and gave me the old muzzle loader, 
or rather I traded him an old watch for it. The 
gun and I became inseperable and I would keep 
it in the parlor if my wife would have permitted 
it. I thought so much of that old gun that in 
1884 I carried it across the Western Plains to 
the foothills of the Rockies for the purpose of 
shooting wild game, as it was the best gun to 
throw coarse shot that I ever saw. For double 

67 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
BB and swan shot it could not be beat and for 
buck shot it was a daisy. It would chamber 
three number one buck shot and nine made a 
load. Firing two shots into a bunch oi ante- 
lope at eighty or a hundred yards certainly made 
the hair fly. Returning home the following year 
"85" I cleaned up the old gun and have not 
loaded it since. That has been more than a 
third of a century ago. Father had promised to 
take me duck hunting with him in the swamps 
just as soon as I could shoot "flying." Many a 
hunting trip on the Kankakee River he has 
shoved me and I have witnessed many remark- 
able shots as well as many poor ones. Father 
is a man who made but little show of his emo- 
tions but I could see a change in his eye when- 
ever I made a good shot, and I knew he was as 
well pleased as I was. I heard Bill Adams 
whisper to Jerome Rathborn one time when 
they were stopping at our place on a duck hunt: 
"That boy of John's can shoot like the very de- 
vil and if he keeps on improving by the time he 

68 



MY FIRST BOAT RIDE 

is fifteen he will be the champion shot on the 
Kankakee." On my last hunting trip on the 
Kankakee, Father was with me, as mention has 
been made, and was running the boat, when I 
made two of the most remarkable wing shots 
ever made in all my hunting experience. We 
were going through the mouth of old Sandy 
Hook when a pair 01 blue wing teels came fly- 
ing past about two feet above the water, As all 
old-time duck hunters know, a teel is the hard- 
est bird to hit of the duck family on account oi 
darting and zigzaging in their flight. ' I pulled 
down on them with the right barrel of the gun 
as they were a long way off and to my surprise 
they both fell dead, The same morning over 
in Cornell's Bayou I made another wonderful 
double shot. We were coasting down the bayou 
and Father was manipulating the paddle and I 
the hardware when a pair of mallards rose up 
out of the timber to my right. The brush was 
so thick that I could not get sight of either of 
them until they flew out into the opening. By 

69 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKA KEE 
this time they were a long way off, too far to 
shoot at using good judgment, But I decided to 
try them. Giving the gun considerable eleva- 
tion I pulled the trigger and greatly to my aston- 
ishment both fell, one dead, the other winged^ 
and before I could give the crippled one the 
other barrel it skulked off in the pucker brush 
and I lost it. As I have said betore, my Father 
was at this time over four-score years, and at 
this writing, 19 2O, is in his nintieth year. He 
continued his hunting until the infirmities of age 
removed him from the swamps. This day fin- 
ished our shooting. I returned to my home in 
Logansport, Indiana, and before the duck hunt- 
ing season opened again I lost my right arm at 
the shoulder in a railroad accident. This was 
my last hunt on the Kankakee and for this rea- 
son I mention this incident. The reader will re- 
member in the opening chapter that I set steel 
traps and caught wild game long before I was 
large enough or old enough to carry a gun, hav- 
ing in all spent over a half century in hunting 

70 




JOHN WERICH Born in 1830. The oldest pioneer 
hunter living, now in his 90th year. Began hunting on the 
Kankakee in 1852. A few months before this book went to 
press he shot and killed a tiger cat that measured forty inches 
long and stood seventeen inches high, the first one ever seen 
in the Kankakee swamps, supposed to have escaped from 
some menagerie. 



MY FIRST BOAT RIDE 
and trapping on the Kankakee. 



CHAPTER VII 
HUNTERS WHO HAVE BUCKFEVERED 

GUNS 

THAT HAVE SPASMS 

AND HUNTERS THAT HAVE 

THE BUCK FEVER 

One more story and it will conclude the series 
of incidents in deer hunting. But all oi this is a 
matter oi history to the man who has tramped 
the woods for years. It is only repeating old 
stories to tell of the deer that ran too fast for you 
to shoot. I once saw a tenderfoot hunter jump 
up a deer at close range and he stood and 
watched the deer until it was out of sight before 
he realized he had a gun in his hands. And so 
it is with others; the duck that always flew be- 
hind the hunter as he sat on a musk rat house 
in a slough and could not turn around, or of the 

72 



HUNTERS WHO HAVE BUCKFEVERED 
flock of wild geese that had lit in the pond in the 
cow pasture that day he had no gun, If you 
had pressed your nose against the pane and 
peeped through the window of a little log hunt- 
frig camp on an island near Sandy Hook, say 
about eight p. m., on a November evening forty- 
two years ago, you would have candle-lighted 
three young men sitting around an old cook 
stove. Two of the men were pulling on old clay 
pipes, and each was at peace with the world as 
far as I know. Let me introduce you to them. 
In the opposite picture that guy standing by the 
stove but usually sitting down in the easiest 
chair (an old cracker box) to be found in camp, 
and absorbing the most heat, is my friend Bill 
Garrison, whom 1 brought along on his first deer 
hunting expedition in the Kankakee swamps, 
Leave it to "Bill." He always grabs the big- 
gest potato in the dish and the huskiest wedge 
of pie on the plate, and always gets the softest 
seat in camp. The tall, lanky, leather-faced 
gink sitting on the woodpile behind the stove, 

73 



THE PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
dressing a musk-rat hide is Jolly Smith, an all- 
around camper and fur-dresser and flap- 
flap flipper, head cook and dish washer, trapper, 
fur-trader, and a good trailer. I should say off 
hand that Jolly stands about seventy-three 
inches in his socks, and when he stretches his 
neck to rubber after game he is taller'n that. 
There isn't an ounce of superflous flesh on him. 
In fact, there isn't much flesh of any kind. Jolly 
is so thin he would have to stand a long time in 
bright sun to make a decent shadow. You can 
see his back from the front if you stare hard 
enough and I Beckon an expectorate who would 
put a little velocity into his work could spit a 
hole through Jolly three times out of five. But 
anybody who picks up Smith for a weak-kneed 
hunter on a long run makes a mistake. On the 
trail he is tougher than a boiled owl. The other 
guy sitting in front of the stove with a bar of 
lead, laddie and bullet molds, running bullets 
that hunter is well, I'm too modest to say who 
it is. All I will say is that there were three of us 

74 



HUNTERS WHO HAVE BUCKFEVERED 
in the party. I have already described two, so 
you can draw your own conclusions as to the 
identity of the third, The next morning it was 
clear and cold, the shallow water around the 
edges of the swamps was frozen over. We had 
decided to drive the ridges so one of our party 
was to take the dog and go up the river on the 
south side to the flats. Perhaps I ought to ex- 
plain a little what is meant by the flats. Many 
French and Spanish words have become incor- 
porated with the English in America that one 
hardly knows the name of things and places by 
their right names. The flats is a high, dry 
swamp, that part of the swamp that is seldom 
under water except in extremely high-water 
times. These flats are covered with heavy tim- 
ber of swamp-oak. In the Pall and early winter 
they are a great place for deer to feed by noz- 
zling in the leaves and snow for acorns. And 
that was the head of the ridges and almost a 
sure place for the dog to take up a trail. On 
account of freezing up, the deer would run the 

75 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
flats and ridges and they would have to be 
chased hard before they would run the low 
swamps. Big Beech Ridge was to be my stand 
and Garrison on the west end of Peach Island. 
Smith took the dog to the flats and had no more 
than got on them when the dog took up a trail. 
Just after sunrise I reached the east end of the 
ridge only to see two hunters coming up from 
the other side. We were strangers, I had never 
met either of them before, but I never stand on 
ceremony with a sportsman. An acquaintance 
was soon struck up between us. They were 
from South Bend, Indiana, and had a camp on 
Goose Island. One of the hunters was a grey- 
haired man, probably sixty-five years of age, 
and claimed to be an old deer hunter who had 
hunted and killed deer with the Indians when 
the Kankakee Swamps were yet the hunting 
grounds of the Pottowattomies, His partner 
was much younger. The @ld hunter was one of 
those fellows that thought he knew it all and 
what he did not know about deer hunting was 

76 



HUNTERS WHO HAVE BUCKFEVERED 
not worth knowing. The young hunter looked 
with great admiration upon his older companion 
and would do anything that he directed. They 
had sent their dogs up the swamps. They said 
that all but one wore young dogs and that the 
old dog did not amount to much. Our dog was 
a good one, the best I ever hunted with, a good 
tounger and swift on the trail. They were all 
the time bragging and boasting on their dog 
"Spot" for being a good runner. I tried to get 
them to agree with me on what would be the re- 
sult if their dog should bring a deer to this point 
and I should kill it, or if my dog should chase 
one or more to them and if they should kill it. 
But they did not want to discuss the subject so 
it was dropped. A fire was built in the end of 
an old butternut log and we stood around it and 
listened for the dogs. We were on the east end 
of the ridge and in a hollow. On each side of 
the hollow the bluff is very steep. The hollow 
was about seventy-five or eighty yards wide. If 
a deer was headed for this ridge from the east it 

77 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
would run this hollow to get on the ridge. A\y 
number ten muzzle-loader, loaded with buck- 
shot, rested against a tree. The old hunter's 
gun was a double combination of sht rifle gun, 
ten guage shot and 30-30 rifle. The young 
hunter was using a cap and ball rifle. Their 
guns were leaning against the log. We were 
sitting around the fire, as it was a cold morning, 
listening for the dogs when suddenly from away 
off up the ridges came the silvery voice of a 
hound. But only for a moment was he heard 
as he crossed from one ridge to another on the 
way to Peach Island. A moment and again the 
bugle notes rang out and warned us that the 
deer was running the north ridges and would 
come to this point where we were stationed. 
The music told us that the dog had reached 
Peach Ridge about a mile away. Whose dog 
was making the noise was the question that 
none f us could tell, but each imagined that he 
could diatinguish the voice of his favorite dog. 
One thing I was sure of and that was that there 

78 



HUNTERS WHO HAVE BUCKFEVERED 
was but one dog in the chase. About half a 
mile up the swamp we heard the crack of a 
rifle four times in succession. We gave up right 
then and there that somebody had got our 
deer and that we weren't in it. I sat down on 
the log again by the fire. The dog was running 
yet and I told /Ar. Spencer, as that was his 
name, that there was some hope for us yet as 
the dogs were still running. For the tounging 
of the hound was coming closer all the time. 
Just then we heard two reports of a shot gun in 
rapid firing and I knew it was Garrison for I can 
tell when he is shooting because he always 
shoots his "second" barrel first, referring to his 
quickness with his second shot. Following this 
we heard the crack of a rifle and again four 
shots had been fired and yet the hound was 
coming on towards us. Two or three times 
since the dog had reached Peach Ridge had I ' 
urged my companions to sit down or conceal 
themselves so that the deer would not be 
turned. r3ut /Ar. Know-it-all and don't-want- 

79 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
to-take-advise-from-a-country -greenhorn refus- 
ed. I told him that advice from a country 
greenhorn was about as good as that of a city 
tenderfoot and that their actions do not show 
very much skill as a deer hunter. I spoke to 
them again, "Boys, that deer is coming straight 
to this hollow and will be here in less than three 
minutes. Let us act like hunters and get be- 
hind the log." Just then I saw the deer coming 
from the other side of the ridge straight to this 
stand, a big buck, and it was right upon us with- 
in twenty-five yards and running like a racer, 
sailing over old logs and brush with the ease of 
a bird. At this I fired one barrel and at another 
leap the deer was behind an old tree so I could 
not give him the other barrel. The young hunt- 
er grabbed up his gun and fired. The deer at 
this time was less than a hundred feet from him. 
He missed fire and the deer ran around to the 
other side of the ridge and while doing this the 
man with the rifle-shot gun fired two shots and 
of course missed. By this time I gave him my 

80 



HUNTERS WHO HAVE BUCKFEVERED 
second barrel as he disappeared into a black- 
berry thicket seventy-five yards away. We 
all looked dumfounded while we reloaded 
our guns and finally something was said about 
old "Spot," But the first dog that came up was 
my old dog 'Trump," His eyes were ablaze 
with excitement and I called out "here Trump" 
and with a look of surprise the grand old d@g 
recognized me. Wagging his tail he came up to 
me to be approved. Meanwhile /Ar. Spencer 
had gone to where the deer had turned past us 
and found great splotches of blood on the leaves. 
The dog took up the trail and in a short time 
brought the buck back by me at the rate of a 
mile a minute. I was on the top of the slope 
while the deer ran the edge of the ridge below 
me. /Ay fusee banged out twice. I held right 
on that big buck at about one hundred and fifty 
feet away and the buck kept right on going. 
Whang-bang went the rifle-shot-gun of the hunt- 
er who knows just how to do it. The deer was 
not more than a hundred feet from him and not, 

81 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
a ball or a shot touched him. The dog was giv- 
ing him a very close chase and when his toung- 
ing suddenly ceased I knew what had happen- 
ed. A moment later I had my hunting knife 
into the buck's neck long before the firstclass 
deer hunter came up. Then the question was, 
who shot the deer. On examining it, it was 
found that he had been hit in the shoulder by 
one buck shot, from my first shot, on the first 
round as he was running right side to me. He 
ran until he tumbled over. The three of us had 
fired nine shots and I le'arned afterwards it was 
the same deer that had passed three hunters 
and that there had been ten shots fired at it be- 
fore it reached us, making in all nineteen shots 
in less than ten minutesand only one bullet had 
pierced his hide. Bad shooting secured for us 
lots of excitement and fun, A reminiscence 1 
shall always remember. There are a class of 
hunters that have a faculty of forgetting their un- 
pleasant experiences and exaggerate their joys 
and success. We divided the game with the 

82 



HUNTERS WHO HAVE BUCKFEVERED 
Goose Island camp and returned to our camp 
in the evening, but I always remembered my 
poor shooting as well as the good. We moral- 
ized on the question; was it a fault of the guns 
or had the hunters an attack of the buck fever 
or was it Providence or chance or did the guns 
have spasms that governed in this case is 
something that I could not quite understand. 
For never before in all my long hunting experi- 
ence have I seen such shooting as was done on 
this hunt. I have witnessed many remarkable 
shots. Geese and ducks have been pulled down 
out of the sky. Deer have been shot and killed 
a fourth of a mile away and many other mira- 
culous shots made. I saw Father shoot and 
kill a hoot-owl one night about nine-thirty when 
it was so dark that you could not see the tree 
that the owl was in. A big hoot-owl had lit in 
a big oak tree near the cabin and commenced 
to hoot "who-are-you." Father took down the 
old squirrel rifle and shot in the direction from 
which the sound came. At the crack of the 

83 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
rifle dawn came something clattering to the 
ground. I took the dog and found the owl, dead 
as a knob. 



CHAPTER VIII 
TRAPPERS' CLAIMS 

TRAPPERS' CLAIMS 

AND HOW THEY WERE 

OBTAINED. THE BEE-TREE 

SWINDLE AND HOW 

IT WAS WORKED 

It was away back in 1868. Think of it. Fifty 
years ago when I made my first appearance in 
the Kankakee Swamps. Since then I have 
hunted in swamps and on mountains, in the big 
forests and on the plains, but none clings to my 
memory quite so well as when my thoughts 
ramble to the days when I was trapping the fur- 
bearing animals in the Kankakee region. There 
are many very funny things happened in those 
old hunting days. I told my early experiences 
in the first chapter of this book from the angle of 
a pioneer hunter of the west, although it did not 

85 



PIONEtR HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKLlit 
all center in the Kankakee Swamps then as it 
has in later years, for many big hunts that won 
me fame was west of the Mississippi River, 
years ago. Whilst writing this story and talking 
with Id friends I have been living over those 
old days, it has freshened memories of inci- 
dents that I have not thought of for years. In 
the early 60's, during the Civil War, the price of 
furs of all kinds went up. A mink hide would 
sell from four to nine dollars each. A good 
coon skin would bring four dollars and a half, 
just as it was nailed on the shanty door, and the 
fur buyer would pull the nails himself. All kinds 
of furs brought a good price and for this reason 
many hunters were brought to the Kankakee 
Swamps. Also many trappers were brought 
here. Up to this time the pioneer trappers had 
no established trapping grounds as there was a 
vast territory along the river covered v/ith water 
the whole year rcund which furnished good trap- 
ping grounds anywhere. He saw that his rights 
were slipping from him and that he would soon 

86 



TRAPPERS' CLAIMS 

be crowded out of a trapping ground. So some 
of the old pioneer trappers got together and es- 
tablished what is known as a trappers' claim. 
Some held certain claims upon rights of per- 
mission, others from permission of the land- 
owners, while still others had bought their 
grounds. These trapping grounds or claims, as 
they were sometimes called, were divided by a 
line running north and south as the river is sup- 
posed to flow from the northeast in a south- 
western course. So the miles on the river were 
the base lines of the claims and extended on 
both sides of the river just as far as it was pro- 
fitable and ran all the way from two to ten miles 
in width. Therefore there were a good many 
trapping grounds lying between the Indiana 
State line and English Lake. These, claims 
were bought and sold almost the same as real 
estate and they were about as strong in their 
stipulation as the Glayton-Bulwort treaty, They 
have brought many a trapper on the verge f 
war. Among the early trappers who came in 

87 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
the late fifties and early sixties were: Joshua E. 
Essex, better known among the old-time hunt- 
ers as "Essex, the Beehunter" from the fact that 
he was one of the greatest wild bee hunters that 
ever hunted the Kankakee region. He began 
hunting and trapping in 1859 in partnership 
with J. E. Gilson, of whom mention has been 
made. They built a log cabin on what is known 
as Butternut Ridge and near the Swift Cut Off. 
Here he trapped for three years then went into 
partnership with Charles Cassel and on Shanty 
Island built a shanty and trapped three y^ars. 
In the summer of 1862 he enlisted and was en- 
rolled in Company I, 5th Regiment. Indiana 
Cavalry. He was Quartermaster Sergeant and 
served to the close of the war, being discharged 
on June 15. 1865, when he returned and again 
went into the swamps and continued hunting 
and trapping until 1880. /Aost of his time in 
the swamps was spent in hunting bees. He be- 
came famous as a bee hunter. After retiring 
from the trapping business for many years he 

88 



TRAPPERS' CLAIMS 

devoted his time to the bee culture, having in 
the meantime invented and patented a bee hive 
which he manufactured and sold. It was a 
great improvement over the old-fashioned bee 
hive. In the winter of 1867 Samuel Irvin be- 
gan trapping and built a shanty on Little Beach 
Ridge, Eben Buck, an old pioneer river man, 
was his skinner and fur dresser. It is said that 
Buck could skin and dress more hides in an 
hour than any two trappers on the river. In 
stretching and dressing a rat hide he was an 
expert. In the fall of '71 Irvin built a shanty on 
Quinn's Island on the north side of the river and 
a little below the north bend. This shanty he 
used for two seasons then found that he had 
been encroaching upon the rights of another 
trapper. Then he sold his shanty to Bill Gran- 
ger. Folsom moved it to Red Oak and placed 
it on the site of the one that was burned in '73, 
In the same year Irvin bought another claim or 
rather two claims, the Indian Garden Claim and 
the Crooked Creek Claim, This purchase ex- 

89 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
tended his trapping grounds up the river as far 
as Crooked Creek. He built a shanty on Indian 
Garden near the mouth of Sandy Hook. Late 
in the Fall of '79, after the fall catch, he sold his 
claim including shanty, boats and traps to the 
Sherwood Brothers, Jerry and Holland, for one 
hundred and fifty dollars. He also realized one 
hundred and forty dollars from one month's 
trapping, thus retiring from the business after 
spending twelve years of successful trapping on 
the Kankakee. The latch string of /Ar. Irvin's 
shanty door always hung out to all hunters and 
fishermen from far and near and they were hos- 
pitably treated and entertained, The Sherwoods 
trapped the ground one or two seasons, then 
sold out and moved to Tennessee. Another 
very successful trapper in those days was H. G. 
Castle who began trapping with his cousin, 
Charles Castle. They trapped in the Shanty 
Island ground for several years and bought furs. 
He retired in '82 and engaged in the mercantile 
business at Hebron Indiana. By 1882 nearly 

90 



TRAPPERS' CLAIMS 

all the old-timers had left the swamps. Furs 
were getting cheap and hardly worth catching. 
But a few years later prices began to Co up and 
then the younger generation took up the trap- 
ping business. Now as I have gone to the limit 
of this story or what 1 promised in the begin- 
ning, The Pioneer Hunters and Trappers, 1 will 
leave the latter day hunters for the second edi- 
tion. The reader remembers I said that Essex 
was a great bee hunter and to my mind he was. 
But he had many close rivals in hunting for 
wild honey. Now I will tell you of one of the 
shrewdest bee hunters that ever operated in the 
Kankakee Swamps. He said that "there are 
tricks to all trades" and a stunt that he pulled 
off and got away with, or rather a "joke" as he 
called it surely proves the assertion of good or 
evil repute of past Sawyers or Sawyers yet to 
grow. Henry B. Sawyer was related to the f\r. 
Sawyer who many years ago ran the Eatons 
Ferry and of which 1 will speak later. This young 
hunter who originated in Kentucky but later at 

91 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
Big Log, Indiana, has friends who have deter- 
mined that he is a natural born hunter (Ken- 
tucky produces a large crop of such). Sawyer 
was long armed and amiable. From many 
years, of practice in hunting and shooting wild 
fowls, deer and wild hogs and other game which 
inhabitatied the Kankakee region had a fairly 
correct notion of his own about hunting, /Aany 
of the sportsmen from the city would employ 
him and turn over their camp to him and at 
night he would teach them local geography of 
the Kankakee region. In a few years he be- 
came known to almost all the sportsmen in the 
nearby cities, The business of a guide in those 
days was to push a boat through the swamps, 
bayous and sand marshes with one, and some- 
times two, hunters in it. At times there was 
much hard work to perform, especially in the 
fall hunt when the water was low. In a year or 
two he grew tired of this business and his 
thoughts seemed to consist as far as might be 
to avoid work. And here he invented his prac- 

92 



TRAPPERS' CLAIMS 

tical '"joke," Sawyer was struck on the idea oi 
bee-hunting, As he was well known by all of 
the old bee hunters along the Kankakee he was 
welcomed as joyously at a bee hunters cabin as 
if he were a long missing brother. He was at 
once made to be at home in the bee hunters 
cabin on Long Ridge, whilst the old hunter en- 
tered with a friendly rivalry with the young hun- 
ter in the giving of advice and information. After 
visiting a number of the old-time bee hunters 
who resided among the sand ridges along the 
river, one of them was Honey Bee Sawyer. He 
thought he had the secret so he began looking 
for wild bees that stored their honey in hollow 
trees which were called bee trees. Honey sold 
at a good price in those days as there were not 
many hunters engaged in the business. When 
Sawyer began hunting the wild bees it was in 
the Autumn of "59". At that time there were 
several good bee hunters in the swamp among 
whom I might mention the Steven brothers, 
/Aarion and Pilander, Harrison Dolson, Joe 

93 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
Cason, Had Folsom, Charles Cannon, and a 
score of others that were very successful bee 
hunters. They were all old timers who had fol- 
lowed the business for years. Sawyer was green 
at bee hunting as I said before, but he hit on a 
scheme that worked and laid the old bee hunters 
in the shade. Me was always a lucky hunter. 
Good luck seemed always at his hand, No 
matter what the game was he pursued, he al- 
ways was sure to bag it, and so the same luck 
followed him iu the bee hunting business. Me 
found two or three trees, cut them, and they pro- 
ved good, getting from sixty to one-hundred and 
fifty pounds per tree. Being a good season for 
honey, as there were lots of wild flowers for the 
bees to work on, Sawyer concieved the idea to 
mark every tree that he found that had a hole in 
it, to mark them all bee trees, generally picking 
on trees that were easily climbed. He had a 
pair of climbers made something on the order 
that telegraph linemen use. He had everything 
in readiness and just as soon as the frost came 

94 



TRAPPERS' CLAIMS 

and hilled the flowers so the bees would have to 
work on bait he was ready for them. As 1 said 
nearly every tree with a hole in it had his name 
on it and it is very seldom that you hear of a 
marked bee tree being desturbed. Before close 
of the bee hunting season Sawyer went around 
to all the trees that he had his name on, climbed 
them, stuck some honey-comb inside of the tree 
and smeared honey a'l around the hole so that 
all the neighborhood bees would work on the 
honey, passing in and out of the hole in the 
hollow tree. This the bees will do late in the 
Fall when the flowers are gone. After baiting 
about sixty-five or seventy trees in this way, 
having three or four live trees, genuine bee trees, 
he announced his trees for sale and in a few 
days he had his victim coming. Some settlers 
from the ridges, hearing of the result of some of 
Sawyer's bee trees, concluded there was a 
chance for speculation, so some of them visited 
the young bee hunter who had a shanty on 
Buck's Ridge, with a view of buying some of his 

95 



PIONEtR HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKLE 
trees. As good luck would have it, it was a 
warm, sunny day in the middle of October and 
the bees worked on bait nicely. Sawyer took 
them through the swamp, over ridges and 
showed them his stock of bee trees. The bees 
were working strong, going in and out of the 
trees, indicating a strong swarm. Sounding the 
trees with the pole of an axe gave them some 
idea as to the hollow thst the tree might con- 
tain. After examining the trees, the party re- 
turned to the cabin late in the afternoon tired, 
wet and hungry, The trapper who was shanty- 
ing with him had a kettle of stewed duck, boiled 
potatoes, bread, butter and coffee, which made 
a fairly good supper, Sawyer asked them three 
dollars and fifty cents a tree and showed them 
the honey that he took out of a tree that he cut. 
He said he had sold six dollars' worth of honey 
and if they doubted his statement they could ask 
/Ar. Smith, the man who helped him cut the tree 
and take the honey out. The settlers hesitated 
for awhile, but finally said they would give him 

96 



TRAPPERS' CLAIMS 

two dollars and fifty cents a tree for sixty-five 
trees. There were three trees on the north side 
of the river they did not want. Sawyer did not 
want to miss a sale so he said that he would 
cut two trees near the cabin and if they did not 
get more than one hundred and fifty pounds 
from the two trees he would take the two 
fifty. And if there was more than that they 
were to give him the three fifty. To this they 
agreed. They went to cut the trees and from 
the first one they ?ot a little over one hundred 
pounds of nice honey. The other tree was still 
better, They soon closed the deal. Sawyer 
was to help them cut the trees and the time was 
decided on the first freeze up when the ice 
would carry them safely, as that would bz the 
best time to get around in the swamp and get 
the honey out. The bargain was closed and 
Sawyer received his money, two hundred and 
twenty-seven dollars for five bee trees-, whilst 
the sixty trees contained nothing but the hol- 
lows. Not a bee in the whole sixty trees or for 

97 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANK AKliE 
a long time afterwards. This was known as the 
"hollow tree sale." Just before or about the 
time of the first freeze Sawyer left the ridge and 
a paper informing the settlers that all kinds of 
things happen in the Kankakee Swamps, he 
took the map of the Kankakee valley and de- 
parted. A few days later the settlers came and 
had a bee tree cutting. They cut several trees 
and did not find any hon-ey nor bees but found a 
piece of honey-comb on a string inside the tree. 
This led them to believe that they had been 
tricked. They went to their homes much wiser. 
but with no honey. What they said of their ex- 
perience was never known. A few days after 
this an old bee hunter asked one of them how 
much honey they got. He drew a long hunting 
knife and threatened the inquirer. The other 
settlers were questioned not at all. It was one 
of th? shrewdest tricks ever pulled off in the his- 
tory of the Kankakee Valley, His fame as a 
bee hunter went abroad all over Northern In- 
diana and he was thence after known as Honey 

98 



TRAPPERS' CLAIMS 

Bee Sawyer, and this done on his achievement 
is not dimmed or forgotten. Pather was quite a 
successful bee hunter and in early days kept 
the home supplied with wild honey all the year 
round and from him 1 got my early training in 
bee hunting. Although I never hunted for bees 
very much yet it is one of the sweetest hunts 
that a man can engage in. I never found very 
many bee trees and what i did find I found 
mostly when I was not looking for them. When 
a boy I used to go with Father when he went 
bee hunting In the fall of the year after the 
frost had killed the wild flowers the bees would 
work on bait and by putting some honey-comb, 
stuck on a stick, in some open place, then 
watch for the bees, and if there are any bees 
within a half mile they will come to the bait and 
after they have loaded themselves with honey 
they will rise, circle around once or twice then 
start straight for home. Then the hunter gets 
the line on the direction of the tree. Possibly 
many of you have heard, the old saying, 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
"Straight as a bee line." Well, this is where 
that old saying originated. A bee never flies a 
crooked line to its home when loaded. 



CHAPTER IX 
RUNNING THE FERRY 

THE PIONEER 

BRIDGE BUILDERS CARRYING 

THE UNITED STATES MAIL THROUGH 

THE KANKAKEE SWAMPS 

IN A CANOE 

Away back in the chilly autumn oi 1836, 
George Eaton, with his family, landed on the 
banks of the Kankakee River at a place known 
in the early days as Fottowattomfe Ford. He 
built a log cabin on the right bank of the river. 
He was one of the courageous pioneer settlers 
redeemed the country from superstition and 
savagery. He began pioneer life as a ferryman 
and ran what was known as the Eaton Ferry. 
He would transfer people from the Forter 
county side t the sand ridges in Jasper county. 
At the season of the year when the water was 

101 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
high the distance was about a mile and a half 
and part of the way was through a dense swamp 
and a pathless marsh. In 1847 or 1848 there 
was a United States mail route established be- 
tween Michigan City and Rensselaer, Indiana, 
and Mr. Eaton had the contract to carry the 
mail across the Kankakee Swamps. In the 
winter time was the rive* and marshes were 
frozen up it was somewhat difficult. But in the 
summer season when the water was low the 
mail was either carried through the swamps and 
marshes on horse back or stage. In the winter 
of "49" Eaton built a bridge across the river. 
This was the first bridge built on the Kankakee 
above /Aomence, 111. On the fotlowing summer 
it was bumed.it is supposed on account of it be- 
ing a toll bridge. Ar. Eaton continued to run the 
the ferry up to the time of his death which oc- 
cured in 1851. His remains were laid at rest on 
a beautiful knoll near the landing place. /Ars. 
Eaton, a woman of remarkable nerve and 
strength, continued to run the ferry and deliver 

102 




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RUNNING THE FERRY 

the mail on the south side. At times the water 
was so high that it could not be carried by stage- 
As I have said, she was a woman of courage and 
strength and there were but few men who could 
excel her with the oars. One morning about 
daybreak two men on horseback arrived at the 
ferry and wanted to be hastily transfered to the 
main land on the south side. They said they 
had to be in Rennsselaer by noon, as there was 
going to be a Government land sale at one o'- 
clock that day and they wanted to be there at the 
opening of the sale. The recent rains had raised 
the water in the river and marshes that one- 
fourth of the way across would swim a horse. 
Through the timber they could ride their horses 
as the water was from knee to belly deep to a 
horse. Mrs. Eaton told them she could ferry 
them over one at a time but it would delay them 
about an hour and a half or she could take them 
both over at the same time and that there were 
places that they could swim their horses and 
that they could ride their horses until the water 

103 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKLEE 
got too deep to wade then they could gel into 
the boat and swim the horses alongside the 
boat. They decided to go together and took 
passage per "skiff" and horseback riding their 
horses when it wasn't too deep. In less than 
an hour they were landed safely at Sand Ridge 
Landing in Jasper County. This is one inci- 
dent mentioned which is only one of the many 
daring feats of this kind in which Mrs. Eaton 
showed her skill as a boat's woman. Late in 
the afternoon of the next day the sheriff of La- 
porte County, Indiana, arrived in the ferry look- 
ing for two stolen horses taken from a farmer 
near Doorville and the description of the men 
and horses tallied with those that Ars. Eaton 
ferried across the river. There is no doubt but 
that they were the men wanted at Laporte. 
The chances for getting away and hiding stolen 
horses in the sand ridges on the south side of 
the river was much better than on the north 
side as the country was not so well settled. 
/Aany a stolen horse has been hidden away on 

104 



RUNNING THE FERRY 

these swamp islands which were never found 
by their owners. Horse stealing in those days 
was a very frequent occurence. Ars. Eaton 
died in 1857 and was buried beside her hus- 
band in the family burying ground near the 
landing. After the death of /Ars. Eaton a man 
by the name of Sawyer cam in possession of 
the old ferry. He built, a bridge in "57." As 
the bridge was not substantially built the ice 
and high water of the following spring took it 
out. Sawyer then ran the ferry again and car- 
ried mail for three or four years. He also put 
up a sawmill on the banks of the river and did a 
good lumber business. Many of the logs he 
sawed were rafted down the river. In 1860 he 
sold out his business to Enus Baum, who oper- 
ated the mill and ran the ferry for a few years. 
Baum built a bridge that stayed in and was 
used until the close of the war when the County 
Commissioners of Porter and Jasper Counties 
jointly took over the bridge and made it free. 
Later on they made a grade through the swamp 

105 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
of timber and sand as far as the timber line. It 
was several years before the grade was com- 
pleted across the marsh to the dry land. This 
was the last of the toll gate system in Porter 
County. In fact, it was the last in Northern In- 
diana. When Baum built the bridge it stayed 
in. This was known, and is to this day, as 
Baum's Bridge. And yet Eaton built a bridge 
across the river at the same place fourteen 
years prioF to the building of the Baum's Bridge. 
It was at this ford that Aajor Irwin crossed the 
Kankakee when he was giving notice to all the 
Indians along the Kankakee Swamps to be 
ready to leave in the early summer for their 
homes beyond the Mississippi. Also it was at 
this ford where General Tipton crossed the river 
while gathering up the children of the forest to 
their far-off hunting grounds toward the sunset. 
In 1878 a party of hunters from Pittsburg, Pa., 
built a club house at the bridge and they put on 
the river a small steamer, "Little Rhoda" which 
played between English Lake and Long Ridge. 

106 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAK1EE 
get a shot at a web-foot duck, and many years 
hunting on this stream have brought me face to 
face with many good fellows that belong to the 
hunters' fraternity. Some of my most pleasant 
recollections that were printed on my memory 
were scenes around a hunters' camp. I have 
often regretted I did not keep a diary for many 
of the talks around these campfires are worth 
recording. 



RUNNING THE FERRY 

Ther was another party of hunters from Louis- 
ville, Kentucky, who built a club house at the 
bridge in the fall of '78 known as the Louisville 
Hunting Club with Wm. Thompson, of Louisville 
as President and H. Parker Rice and Aaron P. 
Perman, of Hebron, Indiana, as hunting guides 
and club house managers. Parker, better 
known as "Dock" among -the hunting circles, 
became associated with the Louisville Club in 
their annual fall hunt of '76 and at that time 
they camped in a cotton shanty or rag-house as 
they are sometimes called, near the Prairie 
Bend. The next season they built a shanty 
where now stands their magnificent building 
which was erected in '78 by Dock Rice, archi- 
tect and builder. On the following year, '79, 
another club house was built by a hunting club 
known as the "White House Club" with George 
Wilcox, of Baum's Bridge, as manager and 
hunting guide. In the hunting season of the 
feathery tribe many are the sportsmen that 
gather along the marshes of the Kankakee to 

107 




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CHAPTER X 
LAST OF THE POTTO WATTO MIES 

FIRING 

THE MARSHES TO 

DRIVE THE GAME OUT. 

HOW THE INDIANS ROAST A DEER HEAD. 

THE LAST OF THE 
POTTOWATTOMiES 
ON THE KANKAKEE 

The readers remember that in a previous 
chapter I mentioned that a few of the Potto- 
wattomie Indians were permitted to remain. 
Now I will tell you what became of Aingo, the 
little Indian boy. One of the most wonderful 
stories of all is a prairie on fire, which is one of 
the grandest sights in the world. I have seen, 
in the fall of the year in a dry time, the Kanka- 
kee Prairies on fire, the time of the sear and 
yellow leaf when all nature is about to put off 
her garb of green and put on the white-snow. 
The Indians sometimes would set the grass on 

108 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAK.EE 
fire to drive the game out. If there is any wind 
going It sweeps like a mighty hurricane and car- 
ries everything before it. Sometimes you can 
burn the grass around you and escape before 
the raging billows of fire reach you. "One time 
many years ago," says an old hunter, "Aubbee- 
naubbee and /Aingo, an Indian boy, and myself, 
were out hunting in the tall grass and weeds on 
the marshes about two miles from the river. We 
had killed a deer and had just cut it open and 
taken out its entrails and were preparing to skin 
it and cut it up so that we could carry it home, 
when we. heard a roaring and crackling noise 
west of us like the coming of a mighty storm. 
Aubbeenaubbee, with terror despicted on his 
face, said that the prairie was on fire and that 
we must get out. As the wind was blowing 
hard from that direction we knew that it would 
soon be upon us and we knew that there was no 
salvation for /Aingo in the tall grass as he was 
small. In the twinkling of an eye we opened 
out the deer and shoved /Aingo in and then 

109 



LAST OF THE POTTO WATTO MIES * 
closed it up like a clam. Aubbeenaubbee and I 
then broke and ran for our lives and of all the 
running and tumbling and summersaults in the 
tall grass beat the world and all the rest of man- 
kind. I took a straight shoot for the river but 
Aubbeenaubbee took off to the left of me and 
reached the pond or slough with some water 
and musk-rat houses in it and he rushed in and 
hurriedly tore off the top of an Id musk-rat 
house and jumped in and was saved. After 
running haFd and being almost given out of be- 
ing overtaken by the fire I reached a creek near 
the river where there was some water. I cross- 
ed over and was safe on the other side of the 
Jordan. Then I stood with wonder and amaze- 
ment at the glorious sight of the ocean of fire 
rolling by and some deer and v/olves rushed by 
me in their fright to escape the scorching ele- 
ments. But I paid no attention to them. After 
the fire had passed by it had left nothing but a 
blackened pall. I started to find my compan- 
ions and found Aubbeenaubbee with his head 

110 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KAN KAKLEE 
stuck out of a musk-rat house, all right except 
a little scorched about the head. r3ut he was 
glad to get off with that. He crawled out of the 
old musk-rat house and started to look for 
Aingo as we had great fear for him, fearing that 
he had been roasted alive. We found the 
roasted deer and knocked at the door and to 
our great delight /Aingo called out, '5it down 
you are at the right door'' And we opened the 
deer and behold, he was safe and sound, al- 
though he said it was red-hot for him for a short 
time. The deer was roasted to a nice brown on 
the outside and we sat down and made a square 
meal off of him. Then we cut it up and carried 
it home and we had enough to eat for sometime 
without cooking." The finest bill of fare that 1 
ever saw was to pass over the burnt district just 
after a big fire had passed and you could find 
all kinds of game; coon, rabbits, and sometimes 
prairie chickens and ducks, nicely roasted and 
many a meal have 1 made of them when out 
hunting and hungry. 1 will tell you how the In- 
Ill 



LAST OF THE POTTO WATTO MIES 

dians cooked their mtats and the way they roast 
a deer head. It is the finest and most delicious 
in the world. They dig a hole about a foot 
square and about a foot deep and make a hot 
fire in it and Keep it burning until it is nearly full 
of red hot coals. Then scrape out the coals and 
ashes. Wrap the deer head with the skin on in 
wet leaves and place it in the hole and cover it 
up with the hot ashes and coals and leave it un- 
til it is roasted through, then take it out and the 
skin will peel off and leave a clean, tender meat. 
Brains and tongue are all nicely cooked and 
that throws whale tongue in the shade. You 
can cook fish just caught in the same way. You 
wrap the fish in a wet paper of any kind and 
lay the fish down and cover it up with hot ashes 
and coals just as you would a roast potato in 
the ashes. After it is done take it out and the 
paper and skin peels off and leaves the juicy 
meat for you to place your pepper and salt and 
eat it. It is the finest thing in the world. You 
just try it sometime when you are out camping 

112 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
on the Kankakee and you will never get tired of 
it. One time on the Kankakee we were out 
fishing for pike and in those days we had no 
such fishing outfits as-are used at the present 
time, such as skinners, trolling hook or Johnson 
grabbers or Hildebrandt's spinner and many 
other patented fishing hooks and artificial baits. 
We had to make our lines and hooks in those 
days and in fishing for pike or pickerel in the 
Kankakee we had to have strong lines and stout 
hooks and bait with a big finn of one of the fish 
caught. If you haven't such a bait use a large 
frog or minnow and keep it moving, as a pick- 
erel seldom bites at a still bait but always takes 
it on the wing and go for it like lightning and 
splashes water in your face like a flying sea 
horse. Then we would pull them in out of the 
water. One day we caught nine pickerel that 
measured altogether fifteen feet. We cooked 
them all up for supper and with bread and but- 
ter and coffee the nine of us ate them all up and 
all of us laid it beat the world and all the rest of 

113 



LAST OF THE POTTO WATTO MIES 

mankind. Just think! Nine men eating fifteen 
feet of fish. Another time we were fishing on the 
Kankakee and caught many red-horse, buffalo, 
and suckers. We ate so many fish that some of 
the boys could not change their shirts for three 
or four weeks. Now all old hunters and fisher- 
men know that suckers and red-horse are a very 
bony fish but just as good as any and some like 
them best, only they are so full of bones. I will 
tell you how we fixed them and they were alright. 
Take a sucker and clean it nicely, then lay it on 
the stump or log and with a sharp knife cut it 
cross-ways into pieces about an eighth of an 
inch long stick the pieces together with cornmeal 
and fry. It is alright and the bones will not trou- 
ble you or get cross- ways in your throat. And 
at that they are far better than German carp. 
One time we were fishing and caught a lot of carp 
when some guy came along and gave his idea 
and directions as to planking carp. Mis direct- 
ions were: Get a nice big carp and clean it in 
good shape. Put it on a hardwood plank, salt 

114 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAK.EE 
and pepper it well, then spread a layer of butter 
on the top. Cover this with strips of bacon and 
cornmeal. Slip him in a hot oven and when 
done to a brown take the outfit bach of the shanty 
and throw the fish away and eat the board. I'll 
say that baked suckers and trimmings you will 
find more palatable than any hard- wood board or 
carp. I will assure you that. If none of these 
dishes don't appeal to you especially, just try 
something else. /Aany years ago, but to be ex- 
act, it was the cold winter of 1843 and the cold- 
est winter ever known, there was a party of deer 
hunters camping on the Ridge. The snow was 
very deep and the weather so cold that it was 
almost impossible to get out and hunt for game. 
The ice in the river was so thick that they could 
not cut a hole through it with an axe so they 
pulled a lot old logs on the ice and set them on 
fire to melt a hole through it. After a night and 
a part of a day they got a hole through it and all 
kinds of fish, pickerel, bass, salmon, and even 
snapping turtles bounded out of the ice and they 

115 



LAST OF THE POTTOWATTOMIES 
had fish to last them until the weather moderated 
One old snapping turtle that came out was so 
large that when they dressed and cooked it, it 
made soup enough to last them a week. The 
ice did not break up that Spring until away in 
April. Some hunters crossed the river on the ice 
seventeenth of April that Spring. I will tell you 
now of some of the Indians that were left on 
the Kankakee and what became of little Aingo, 
the Indian boy. /Aingo was the last Pottowat- 
tomie on the Kankakee. Me had been captured 
by the Sioux and carried away to the Northwest. 
The old chief, the father of Niagara, did not like 
/Aingo and was not inclined to confer the honor 
on him he had so fairly made, Niagara was 
his favorite child and she must be the wife of 
some distinguished personage. But the old 
chief was doomed to be outwitted by his daugh- 
ter as many a father is in matters of this kind. 
At a time when the chief was absent holding a 
council with a neighborhood tribes of Sioux, 
/Aingo picked out two of the chief's best horses 

116 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
on which to escape with his girl to his own 
tribe. Niagara was ready and when the village 
was sunk into profound sleep she met him in a 
sequestered place, bringing a supply of provi- 
sions for the trip. In a moment they were in 
their saddles and away. They were not less 
than three long sleeps from his own people and 
would be followed by the Indians as long as 
there were any hopes of overtaking them. By 
morning, however, there would be a wide space 
between them and their pursuers and would 
make their escape entirely practible if no mis- 
haps should befall them on the way. The first 
night or next day in the evening they reached a 
camp of trappers and hunters and among them 
were old Kill-buck and LaBonta, Frenchmen 
who were trapping and buying furs, and from 
whom I obtained this narrative while camped on 
the Kankakee many years. The trappers were 
very much surprised to see two young Indians, 
a young man and a squaw, ride up and alight in 

the midst of them, apparently much fatigued and 


117 



LAST OF THE POTTO WATTO MIES 
way-worn. Their presence required a prompt 
explanation, as they might belong to some mer- 
anders in that vicinity, who might give trouble. 
The young Indian made the pretext of friend- 
ship but he might be the spy of a hostile band 
who were meditating an attack on them, but 
what means this pretty young girl who is with 
him. War parties are never encumbered with 
women and the faded condition of their horses 
to some extent allayed their fears, as it was 
evidence that they were on a long and severe 
journey. Old Kill-buck interrogated him as to 
his object and destination and learned that he 
was a Pottowattomie and a remnant of the 
tFibe of the Kankakee and Wabash Rivers, and 
who had been taken captive about a year before 
by the Sioux, and was carried away by them to 
their villages up in the northwest until a chance 
to escape to his own tribe presented itself. The 
young girl with him was Sioux, for whom he 
conceived a fondness while among her tribe. 
The attachment was not only mutual but that 

118 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAK.EE 
they might consumate their bliss they found it 
necessary to elope. They were now flying to 
nts native village to which another night's ride 
he thought would bring them. As they seemed 
very much fatigued and were out of provisions, 
the party very promptly tendered them the best 
they had which was consumed with good relish 
by the two lovers, and after they had enjoyed a 
little repose Kill-buck drew from them the inci- 
dent and story just related. The trappers tried 
to persuade them to stay until morning and en- 
joy the refreshments and rest which they need- 
ed so much, but he replied that they had not 
slept any since they set out on their flight, nor 
did they even dare to think of closing their eyes 
before he shuld reach his own home. He knew 
that he would be pursued as long as there was 
the faintest hope of being overtaken and he also 
knew what his doom would be if he again fell 
into the hands of the Sioux. Having remained 
in the camp a short time, the two fugitive lovers 
were again on the wing flying over the green 

119 



LAST OF THE POTTOWATTOMIES 
prairies of the Kankakee marshes by the light of 
the moon. A full and beautiful moon animated 
and sustained by the purity of their motive, and 
the hope of soon reaching a place of safety and 
protection. They said they had good horses, 
good hearts, good weather, good country to tra- 
vel over and above all a good cause and why 
not good luck. Kill-buck learned afterwards 
that they reached his home in safety and lived 
happily for many years. And that was the last 
that was ever heard of Aingo Doranto, the last 
of the Pottowattomies. Lenia Leota, his sister, 
was taken captive by some other hostile Indians 
and carried off to the far west toward the sunset 
and her fate was never known nor never will be 
until the great day of judgment. But like the 
stars that shed their glory ore a dark and trou- 
bled sea, like some long forgotten story cherish- 
ed are thou still to me. There were two or three 
other Indians that lived and hunted and trapped 
on the river. One old Indian, Sheubana, lived 
on French Island and he was related to old 

120 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
Peashaway, who for many years lived on an 
island in the north marsh near the Cumbertand 
ladge. Sheubana and Peashaway lived on the 
head waters of the Kankakee near English 
Lake. When 1 last heard of them, the three In- 
dians mentioned were the last of the Pottowat- 
tomies on the Kankakee. 



CHAPTER XI 
HOME'OF CHIEF KILLBUCK 

FRENCH ISLAND 

FOR MANY YEARS THE HOME OF CHIEFS 

SHEUBANA AND OLD KILLBUCK 

WHEN SETTLED BY A FRENCH 

FUR TRADER NAMED 

LA BONTA 

The first white man to settle on French Island 
was a French fur trader by the name of LaBon- 
ta. He settled here for the purpose of trading 
and trafficing with the early hunters and trap- 
pers who had settled along the Kankakee at 
that time. As I have said before the War De- 
partment granted a few of the Pottowattomies, 
those who had been friendly to the whites, per- 
mission to stay in the Kankakee Region, There 
were two or three French families on the island 
who had settled there years before and for this 
reason it derived its name "French Island." 

122 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAK.EE 
There were four or five Indians living on the is- 
land at this time and among them lived an old 
Indian and his aged squaw by the name of 
Sheubane. He was at the Ft. Dearborn massa- 
cre and saved a great many of the whites. He 
was over eighty years of age when found on 
this island by the white hunters in the winter of 
1858 and of whom I obtained this narrative. 
Sheubana lived with his squaw and two little 
grandchildren in a wigwam on French Island 
where LaBonta found old rxillbuck dead in the 
winter of 1857. "One day" said the hunter 
"whilst a couple of us were out hunting we 
passed the wigwam of Sheubana and found his 
poor old squaw and the children in great distress. 
They informed us that Sheubana had started 
down the river to hunt and been gone for three 
days and they knew that something had hap- 
pened him or he would have been back. As 
they were out of meat and nearly starved we 
fed them the best we could and called out all 
our force and started to hunt for him. We had 

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HOME OF CHIEF KILLBUCK 
not gone far when one of the party heard a 
noise and going to the spot found the poor old 
Indian fast, with one leg in one of those traps 
that were used in those days. In looking for 
game in the woods and brush he ran against 
the trap and sprung it and got caught and being 
old and feeble, could not extract himself. And 
there the poor old soul had lain for three days 
and nights in the cold and rain without shelter 
or anything to eat, and the storm and the winds 
had beaten on his aged head. We shed many- 
bitter tears over him. We extracted him as 
soon as possible and placed him on a litter 
made of sticks and barks and carried him as 
carefully and tenderly as a child to his wigwam. 
One of the party on returning had killed a deer 
which they carried along with them and they 
placed Sheubana and the deer at the door of 
the wigwam like Longfellow's Hiawatha .had 
placed his deer at the feet of Minnehaha, the 
Laughing Waters. It would have done your 
soul good (if you had one) to have seen those 

124 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE 

Indians rejoice at the return of Sheubana. And 
it was then I could understand that beautiful 
saying in the Bible: There is greater rejoicing 
over one that is lost and found, and there is 
more joy in Heaven over one sinner that re- 
pents and is saved than the ninety and nine 
who went not astray.' Suffice to say, they took 
as good care of Sheubana as they could and 
visited him every day. We had some linaments 
and salves, sticking plasters as hunters always 
go prepared for accidents and we applied them 
freely and he mended quickly. But we had to 
leave and before leaving we left them everything 
we good spare and plenty of game. I after- 
wards heard that he got well, lived and died on 
the headwaters of the Kankakee. Aay his soul 
rest in peace." /Aany years ago this island was 
the hiding place of a bunch of counterfeiters and 
which part of the gang were captured at Bogus 
Island some years ago. In the Fall of 1859 
Uncle Marl Seymour was trapping the French 
Island ground, in the bayou between the river 

125 



HOMI- OF CHIEF KILLBUCK 
and the landing. He was setting a trap at an 
old rat house in the bayou when he made a 
discovery. In sticking a talley stake in the old 
rat house it struck something hard and sounded 
hollow, like striking a stick against an old box. 
He removed the top off the rat house and found 
a small iron box covered with rust, sand and 
moss, from which rats used to build their houses. 
Prom the appearance of the box it had been 
hidden away in the bayou for many years and 
the rats had built quite a large house over it. 
In opening the box it was found to contain an 
outfit of counterfeiting tools, dyes, plates, leads 
and things that are used in the making of bogus 
money. Possibly this outfit belonged to part of 
the gang that was captured on Bogus Island in 
the early sixties. There are many dark, mys- 
terious stories connected with the early history 
ef this island. Aany years ago a man by the 
name of Beeler was hunting in the swamps and 
his dogs ran a fox into a hole on the island and 
in digging out the den for the fox he dug up the 

126 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
remains of two white men that had been buried 
for a number of years by unknown hands where 
history does not reach. In the Pall of 1844 as 
Rens Brainard was hunting on the river he dis- 
covered the body of a man lodged against some 
driftwood near the French Island Landing. He 
recognized the body as that of John Drago, a 
German who lived near the island. Drago had 
been murdered and two pieces of an old iron 
pump tied to his body and then cast into the 
river to be buried in the still waters and peace- 
ful sands, with no marks of his last resting place. 
But the old iron pump that was used for a 
weight was not heavy enough to hold the body 
down to the sandy grave in which the murderer 
had placed it. The body arose and lodged 
against some old driftwood. /Ar. Brainard re- 
ported the finding of the body of a man in the 
river at French Island to the Jasper County 
authorities who came and took up the body and 
made a postmortem examination and found 
that he had been murdered. To conceal the 

127 






HOMK OF CHIEF KILLBUCK 
crime, the body had been sunken to the body of 
the Kankakee River. The friends of the de- 
ceased soon went to work to solve the mystery 
and bring the murderer to justice. Strong sus- 
picion led to the arrest of a Bohemian named 
Weberon Warteno, who lived near the island. 
Circumstantial evidence was strong against him. 
He finally confessed that he committed the 
crime and was tried in the Circuit Court, found 
guilty and was sentenced to be hung. On Feb- 
ruary 26, 1886, in the court-yard at Rensse- 
laer. Jasper County, Indiana, he paid the pen- 
alty of the crime, thus ending the life career of 
Weberon Warteno, ihe murderer of John Drago. 
About a mile and a half up the river from 
French Island and on the opposite side of the 
river is a big knob, too small to be called an 
island, that has more history to the square foot 
than any island on the river. Having an area 
of about 150 square feet and is in a dense 
swamp forest about 150 yards back from the 
river. It was a hard place to find for one who 

128 



PIONEER HUNTKRS OK THE KAN KA KICK 
is not very well acquainted with the location. 
Years ago it was known as Deserters Island 
from the fact that during the dark days of the 
rebellion it was a hiding place for deserters and 
fugitives from justice. Along in the eighteen 
nineties there was organized at Hebron, Indiana 
a hunting club known as the Columbian Club 
from the fact that the Columbian World's Pair 
was going on in Chicago that year, so they 
called their organization the Columbian Hunting 
Club. There were eight charter members of the 
old club, all business men of Hebron. J. C. 
Smith, president, George Qidley, secretary and 
treasurer, Jerry Sherwood, George Aargison, 
Chas. Miller, Bart Siglar; L. E. Ripley and Ira 
V. Fry. They built their clubhouse on the little 
island that I have just described and called it 
Camp 6 to 2, from the fact that there were six 
democrats and two republicans. Two years 
later the membership had increased to sixty-two 
members, then the name was changed to Island 
Sixty-two from the fact that there were sixty- 

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HOME OF CHIEF KILLBUCK 
two members in the club and the big knob or 
island is known by that name to this day. Of 
the eight charter members of the old Columbian 
Hunting Club all have crossed over the divide 
but three, Siglar, Gidley and Fry, The island 
has long since been deserted as the swamp fires 
swept over the island some twenty years ago 
and destroyed the clubhouse, yet now and then 
a camp was made on the island during the 
duck shooting season, as shown in the cut. The 
island 6 to 2 is pretty much like Goldsmith's 
deserted village, forlorn and desolate, yet there 
are many happy memories that cluster around 
this little island camp of hunting days in the 
years gone by. 



130 



CHAPTER XII 

INDIAN ISLAND 

INDIAN ISLAND FIRST SETTLED 

BY THE WHITES. SOLD TO A SAW MILL 

COMPANY WHERE THE FIRST STEAMBOAT 

WAS BUILT ON THE KANKAKEE 

Indian Island in an early day was known as 
Mike's Island from the fact that there was a 
white man by the name of Aike Haskins who 
hunted with the Indians and camped on this 
island and whom I mentioned before. It was 
better known as Indian Island and was for un- 
told ages the hunting and camping grounds of 
the Pottowattomie Indians. It is one of the old- 
est inhabited islands on the Kankakee and 
there was no Indian camp between the head- 
waters and the mouth of this historical river 
that had a better fortification than Indian Island, 

131 



INDIAN ISLAND 

Haskins was with General Harrison on that fa- 
mous march up the Wabash and Tippecanoe 
Rivers and it was this white hunter who fired the 
first shot at the Battle of Tippecanoe. On a 
misty, moonlight night in November, 1811, Mas- 
kins was on picket duty and as the Indians 
made theiF attack on the camp in the night by 
crawling upon the sleeping army. In the early 
part of the night it had been raining but along 
about midnight it broke away and the clouds 
were thin and scattering. There was a full 
moon and as the clouds were light they moved 
very rapidly and at times the moon shown in its 
full brightness. As the Indians had just been 
supplied with new guns and hatchets they were 
still very bright. The Indians made their attack 
about three o'clock in the morning and as they 
skulked and crawled upon the camp Haskins 
saw something glisten as the moon shone 
through the thin clouds and knew what it was. 
He pulled his gun to his shoulder, took aim at 
the glistening object, pulled the trigger, and an 

132 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAfCEE 
Indian bounded up out oi the grass and yelled. 
This aroused the others and the battle began 
and the result of that shot is well known. The 
reader remembers I told in a previous 
chapter what brought Haskins to the Kankakee 
Swamps. In 1854 Aaron Broady 5r., and his 
son, John, entered the land- The land of which 
the island was originally a part belonged to the 
State and contains one hundred and twenty 
acres. The island itself only contains about 
thirty-five or forty acres. In the early days be- 
fore the country was drained it was surrounded 
by water nearly the whole year round and the 
only way of getting to the island was with boat 
or by wading in from the north side. In the dry 
season when the water was low you could drive 
in with a team but in the winter season when 
the marshes were frozen up, getting in on the 
ice was the best time. The Broadies each built 
a log cabin and cleared up afeout ten acres and 
put it under cultivation. The island at that time 
was heavily timbered. The Kankakee swamps 

133 



INDIAN ISLAND 

were originally covered with a heavy timber, 
hard wood. On the dry land was found many 
varieties of oak and hickory, while on the bot- 
tom or swamps which were covered with water 
is the white and black ash, red and white beech 
sycamore, elm, soft maple, white cottonwood, 
white and yellow birch, and three or four vari- 
ties of swamp or water oak, whilst on the ridges 
is found the white and black walnut, three spe- 
cies of dry land oak, sassafras, paw-paws, waw- 
hoe, prickley ash, red haws, rron wood and dog 
wood. Most of this timber was valuable saw 
timber and on this island was a good site for a 
saw mill. So in 1866 a company was organ- 
ized and known as the Indian Island Sawmill 
Company. It was made up of prairie farmers 
who owned swamp lands. They bought the 
island from the Broadies. paying them five 
thousand dollars in cash for it and in the win- 
ter of '66 when the marsh was frozen up they 
put the sawmill on the island and soon had it in 
operation, first they sawed the lumber to 

134 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKLEE 
build the mill and to put up a house for the mill 
boss and his men to live in. The house was 
built of white oak throughout except the floor 
and that was of white ash. The building is six- 
teen by thirty-four feet, one story, and is box 
sided with one by twelve inch white oak siding. 
The house has never bean painted and is in 
good condition and in use at this writing. 1920. 
Several years ago there was a lean-to built on 
the east side of the house and in this building is 
where I spent ten years of my boyhood days. 
The mill business was good. In the winter 
when the swamps were frozen up thousands of 
logs were brought to the mill and sawed into 
lumber. But getting the lumber off the island 
was somewhat of a task as there were only cer- 
tain times of the year that it could be hauled 
out to the dry land. In 1868 John Bissell and 
Ira Cornell, two of the heaviest stockholders in 
the 1. I. 5. /A. Company, built and put on the 
river a steamer, The White Star, for the purpose 
of transporting lumber and cord wood down te 

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INDIAN ISLAND 

/Aomence, Illinois, and other points along the 
river where there was sale for their product. The 
island is about one hundred rods from the river 
and in order to get the steamer and flat boats 
from the island to the river they had to dig a 
canal eighteen feet wide and four feet deep. 
Father was put on the job as superintendent and 
with a gang of men with shovels dug what was 
known then and is to this day as the Bissell- 
Cornell steamboat canal. Adison E. Buck, of 
Hecron, Indiana, was the master boat builder. 
For several trips up and down the river Father 
was the pilot and John Bissel, captain. The 
freighting business on the Kankakeedid not pan 
out just as expected and in the early seventies 
the steamer and flat boats or scowes, as they 
were called, were sold to a /Aomence party and 
fitted out for a pleasure boat. In '71 Father 
bought the Bissel stock in the I. I. 5. A. Com- 
pany which contained two-fifths of the shares in 
the company. The reader remembers that it 
was here where I left them in the opening chap- 

136 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
tcr of this story and it is only right and proper 
that I take them with me to my island home on 
}he Kankakee. It was way back in the hazy 
and smokey old days of October, in 1871, those 
days that now seem to belong to another cen- 
tury and another manner of living, These were 
the days you could hardly see the sun on ac- 
count f the dense clouds of smoke that would 
settle over the lowlands and thousands of acres 
of Kankakee marshes and swamps were on fire 
not only here but thousands of acres elsewhere 
were burning and not only the prairie, marshes 
and forests, but cities and towns were passing 
away in smoke. The year '71 was known as 
the dry season. The river was very low, the 
lowest it had been for years. The swamps and 
marshes in many places had dried out and the 
filling of self-moved earth of past centuries that 
had washed in from the highlands, sediments 
and decayed vegitation. This took fire and 
burned everything down to the sub-soil. Thous- 
ands of acres of marsh land were burned out in 

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INDIAN ISLAND 

this way, leaving deep holes covering an area of 
two to twenty acres in a place and from one to 
five feet in depth and when filled with water 
made many small lakes and ponds. The day 
we moved to the island, October 9, was the hot 
day in Chicago, the great Chicago fire. It was 
on this island that many scenes of my boyhood 
experiences were painted on memery's canvas, 
as it was here that I began my early experiences 
hunting with a shot gun. During the early 
seventies and eighties this island was a great 
camping ground for hunters coming from far and 
near. I have met with hunters from all parts of 
the country who came' here to shoot wild geese 
and ducks. In the Fall of '75, H. J. /AcSheehy, 
of Logansport, Indiana, made his first hunting 
trip to this island and the acquaintance of this 
newspaper man grew into inseperable friend- 
ship. It was Ar. AcSheehy and his party that 
brought the first breech-loaders to the island and 
the next year his hunting partner, the late John 
Condon, a millionaire race-track man of Chica- 

138 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
go, brought to our place the first air pillows that 
I ever saw. It was in a hunting boat on the 
Kankakee marshes and near our place that I 
first met one of Indiana's most famous writers, 
General Lew Wallace. He was with a party of 
Indianapolis hunters and was stopping at the 
Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Rockville club 
houses at Baum's Bridge, I might mention 
scores of Indiana hunters who have at some 
time in the years past hunted on the Kankakee. 
Getting logs out of the swamp was very un- 
certain owing to various conditions of the 
swamps. Sometimes the swamp would freeze 
up early in the winter with high water and be- 
fore it froze solid the water would leave the ice 
making it shelly and when the ice was in this 
condition it was dangerous getting around with 
a team. Under these conditions logging was 
no good that winter. Finally Father sold the 
saw mill to some parties in Valparaiso and they 
moved it to the big woods near Chesterton, In- 
diana. About 25 years ago Father sold the 

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INDIAN ISLAND 

island to /Ar. Henry Kahler, of Chicago, who 
fitted up the place for a hunting and fishing re- 
sort. In 1908 a party of Chicago sportsmen or- 
ganized what was known as the Kankakee Val- 
ley Hunting Club with Frank Nahser, president, 
Dr. P. /A. Hoffman, vice-president, and Henry 
Stevens, secretary and treasurer. The club 
leased the hunting rights on several thousand 
acres of swamp land and built their clubhouse 
on Indian Island, where some of the members 
of the club made hunting trips to this place 
every year until the swamps were drained and 
duck shooting became a thing of the past. Then 
they sold the club house and it was taken down 
and moved away. 



140 



CHAPTER XIII 

GRAPE ISLAND 

TRAGEDY ON GRAPE ISLAND. 

A TYPE OF TRAPS THAT WERE USED 

BY THE PIONEER HUNTERS FOR CATCHING 

WILD GAME BEFORE STEEL TRAPS 

WERE INVENTED, 

The history of Grape Island is a history with a 
dark page in it. Grape Island, as well as many 
other swamp islands, never made any perma- 
nent settlement but it was inhabited by hunters 
and trappers during the hunting season. The 
island was first inhabited by white men as early 
as 1844 by a man named Allen Dutcher; who 
built a shanty and hunted wild game and caught 
the fur bearing animals in rude traps. A few 
years later he used steel traps. Aany other old 
time hunters have made this island their tem- 
porary home during the trapping season. The 

14! 



GRAPE ISLAND 

tragedy on Grape Island put a dark page in its 
history, as there was one of the most cold-blood- 
ed murders committed on this island that was 
ever known in the history of the Kankakee 
Swamps. Early in the fall of 1876 John France 
and James Cotton, two trappers, had bought or 
traded for the Grape Island trapping ground. 
They built a log cabin, using gree.n cottonwood 
logs and they covered it with a board roof. Prior 
to this, for many years they had been trapping 
the south marsh below Long Ridge. Their grub 
box was getting low, so A\r. France went to 
Hebron, Indiana, to get grub-supplies and he 
stayed at Hebron over night. The next day he 
returned to the island and found the cabin burn- 
ed. The roof and part of one side and end was 
burned. On investigation he found everything 
inside burned and among the ruins he found the 
charred body of his partner. There was found a 
bullet hole in his skull, indicating that he had 
been murdered and the. cabin set on fire to cover 
up the crime and destroy all trace of evidence. 

142 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
And as I said, the logs were green, therefor the 
cabin did not completely burn down. The pur- 
porter of this dastardly crime was never appre- 
hended. VAany theories were advanced for the 
motive of the crime but no facts, and it was the 
general supposition that he was murdered for to 
obtain his money, as they had recently sold their 
furs. They had chosen this particular time while 
one was absent from camp. Now 1 will tell you 
how the Indians and old pioneer trappers made 
their rude traps in early times. They would take 
a small log, eight or ten inches in diameter, and 
fifteen or eighteen feet long and split it about ha If 
or two-thirds of the way. Place the log on the 
run-way on the banks of a creek or river or 
wherever game is likely to pass and then take 
another small log or heavy stick for weight and 
it on top of the split pole and then about two 
feet from the end where the game is to be 
caught. Drive down two stakes, one on each 
side of the pole to keep it in place, and two 
more at the other end the same way, and for 

143 




Ruins of a Trapper's Cabin on Grape Island where 

James Cotton was murdered and burned 

February 7, 1877 



GRAPE ISLAND 

the same purpose. They then made a common 
stick trigger out of wood like you use to set 
quail traps, only much larger, called a figure 4. 
Then raise up the end of the split stick the ne- 
cessary heighth, set the trigger and place the 
bait on the long stick and woe unto the wolf, 
fox, wild-cat, coon, mink or any other animal 
that takes hold of the bait or touches the trig- 
ger, for that springs the trap and down comes 
the upper sticks on the lower stick which is 
kept in place by the stakes on each side and 
catches the victims between them. That rude 
trap was rightly named when it was called a 
"Dead Fall" for in the morning you will find your 
game dead without the use of a club. We gen- 
erally find no cause of blame or negligence on 
the part of the trap, but generally find the victim 
was either deaf, dumb or blind, and no cause to 
run in the way of a trap. We exonerate all the! 
is attached to the traps from our blame for their 
sad misfortune. Another rude trap that was 
used for catching wild game without the use cf 

M4 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 

spring or trigger in those early times was to cut 
a hole in a hollow tree about fifteen inches from 
the ground large enough for a lynx, wolf, fox or 
wild-cat to put his head in. Cut a crevice ten 
or twelve inches long below sloping almost to a 
point at the bottom, then hang your bait in the 
hollow the hole and wait for the results. /Ar. 
Lynx, wolf, fox or wild-cat comes along, puts 
his head in the hollow for the bait and as he 
comes down to get the bait his head and neck 
comes down the crevice. In the morning you 
will find your game dead without the benefit ct 
clergy. Another was the snare trap, or swing- 
ing trap, as they were sometimes called, were 
among the first used on the Kankakee in early 
times. They would take a sapling and bend it 
so as the top would reach the ground and it 
was held in that position by means of one stick 
trigger. A stake was driven in the ground and 
squared on two sides. One side of the stick 
had a notch cut in so as to fit en the square 
side of the stake, the other end was fastened t~i 

145 




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PIONHER HUNTERS OK THE KANKAKEE 
the sapling by a hook notch. The bait was fast 
to the trigger so it could not be moved without 
pulling the stick out of the notch in the stake. 
To the sapling they would fix their snares made 
of buck-skin strings, such as was used in those 
days. Then they would make quite a number 
of loops and place them all around the bait, so 
as the game could not get the bait without put- 
ting its head through one or more of the snares; 
and woe unto the wolf or any other animal that 
touches the bait, for that pulls the stick out of 
the jiotch in the stake that holds the sapling and 
when you return you will find your game swing- 
ing in the air several feet above the ground as 
shown in illustration. One more of these fa- 
mous old-time game catchers that was used on 
the Kankakee long before steel traps were in 
use or even thought of were what they called a 
game-pen. It was built of logs top, sides and 
bottom. It was built in a side hill or bluff, up to 
the level of the ground. Then they had a trap 
door on top. The top of the pen was covered 

146 



PIONEER HUNTERS OK THE KANKAKEE 
with leaves or grass to hide suspicion and over 
the door they hung up the bait, usually a piece 
of venison, When a hungry wolf, lynx or fox 
came along they would stop to feed on the bait 
and they would have to pass over the trap door. 
When they were about to take hold of the veni- 
son the game would step upon the door, It 
would turn and down they went into the pen. In 
early times when there was plenty of such game 
along the Kankakee swamps it was not an un- 
common thing to take three or four wolves out 
of the pen at one time and sometimes a mixed 
lot of game is caught, such as wolves, foxes and 
wild-cats. Many years ago some trappers had 
a trap of this kind on a little island in the North 
Marsh and they took out of the pen at one time 
two wolves, three foxes and a wild-cat. In an 
early day it was said that a few panthers were 
caught in this way on the uplands, as the pan- 
ther did not inhabit the swamps on account of 
the water, as they were not much for water. 
But a number were caught in the big woods near 

147 



GRAPE ISLAND 

Lake Michigan. When the steel traps came in 
use the old rude traps were almost forgotten and 
are remembered as a thing of the past. About 
thirty-seven years ago I built and used a pen 
trap on the foot-hills of the Rockies to catch 
mountain lion and bear. I also built and used 
a dead-fall on the Kankakee to catch a red fox 
that was so cunning I could not catch it with a 
steel trap. All old trappers know that a fox is 
the most cunning animal in the world to catch 
in a steel trap. I will tell you how we used to 
catch wild turkeys in a trap. We would build a 
pen out of poles eight or ten feet square and 
two feet high, and cover it with poles and brush. 
But before building the pen begin about ten feet 
from one side and dig a trench, tapering it under 
the edge of the pen just deep enough for the tur- 
key to get in by stooping down. You continue 
the trench on inside of the pen a couple of feet 
until the trench is not more than six or eight 
inches deep at the end. You then scatter corn 
in the trench to the end and around in the pen. 

148 



GRAPE ISLAND 

The turkeys come along and see the corn. They 
start in the trench, eating as they go along, 
and stooping under the edge of the pen and 
jumping up on the high part for the corn and 
there they are. The poor simple things never 
think of jumping down and passing out again as 
they came in. There you have them. I must 
say that I never could see much providence, 
sense or instinct in this matter and it is a worse 
case than any of the traps in the business that I 
know of. 



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CHAPTER XIV 
BARRKL-HOUSE BLIND 

SMOOTING 

DUCKS FROM A 

BARREL HOUSE BLIND. THE 

FIRST TUB SHOOTING ON 

THE KANKAKEE 

MARSHES. 

Of course you remember where the last chap- 
ter ended. /Aethinks I hear some old-time 
hunter say; "You bet 1 do." These reminis- 
cences of deer hunts related left enough old 
time recollections to Keep me from forgetting as 
long as I live where the last chapter ended. It 
happened during the winter hunt of seventy-four 
and the story of what transpired and some other 
experiences have been told in trappers' shanties 
and in hunters' lodges. As I have promised at 
some time to tell you how we shot geese and 
ducks on the open marshes, so here goes. My 

;50 



BARREL-HOUSE BLIND 

first duck shooting trip to the South /Aarshes 
was made in October, 1872. As a boy of 
twelve years I had done a little shooting in the 
ponds and on fly-ways at our island home but 
never had been out on a big hurt like this be- 
fore, as I termed it when any mention was made 
of this trip, I found the hunting entirely differ- 
ent on the big, open marsh than what I was 
used to around the island. Ducks were not 
very plentiful on the marsh that fall so my first 
hunting trip was of short duration. A year or so 
after this I was sitting in a trapper's shanty be- 
hind a stove, it was a cold winter night, listening 
to hunters' yarns and stories, told by a party of 
deer hunters who were in camp on the Island. 
They were spinning hunters' yarns and discuss- 
ing the excellent hunting conditions of the Kan- 
kakee region, as two members of the party were 
old-time hunters of the swamps for many years. 
While the old story-teller had stopped to get his 
wind, Bill Jones, a marked hunter, turned to me 
with the question: "How would you enjoy a duck 

151 



PlONhi R HUNTERS OK THE KANKAKKE 
hunt on Wolf Lake just as soon as the ice goes 
out?" In less than ten minutes the trip was all 
arranged and the start was to be made as soon 
as the ice was out of the marshes. Wolf Lake 
was noted for its early duck shooting on account 
that the ice goes out sooner than it does on the 
shallow water marsh, as the winter snows and 
soft winds will soon melt it out long before it 
does on the shallow water where there is more 
grass and willows frozen in the ice that holds it 
down under the water so that the sun and winds 
never touch it. It is a long time going out. 
These marshes have attracted the attention of 
sportsmen from all parts of the country who 
would pilgrimage to this region year after year 
to shoot geese and ducks, It was very seldom 
that a mistake was made by coming to this 
place for successful duck shooting. The hunters 
pulled down their birds with distressing regular- 
ity, although it is practically prairie shooting 
which is so deceiving to the novice. From this 
fact that in later years the shooting is done from 

152 



PIONEER HUNTERS OK THE KANK.AK.tE 
a portable blind called a sink-tub and which is 
commonly called tub-shooting - rather than from 
a boat or a blind. In the fall shooting there is 
plenty of grass, flags and marsh willows growing 
in the shallow water marshes for a blind but 
when the marshes froze over the grass is set on 
fire by hunters to drive the game out and after 
the fire has run over the ice covered marshes 
everything is burned off slick and clean above 
the ice so in the Spring shooting there is nothing 
for a blind. As the days of the long, cold winter 
were passing and the clear, sunny days of 
Springtime had come and melted the ice out ot 
the marsh I began to get restless, more so as the 
days lengthened into Spring. I knew well it was 
the call of the wild, as it gets hold of me about 
every Spring and Fall and when I was a boy it 
got me oftener than that. Finally I hit upon the 
absolutely right thing in my estimation; a practi- 
cal, sensible sink tub. It consists of a kerosene 
barrefby sawing the top of the barrel off at the 
bulge. Then I went to a blacksmith shop and 

153 



BARRLL-HOUSE BLIND 

had two rings made and bolted to the barrel for 
stake rings and with two stakes four or five feet 
long with hooks on driven in the ground and 
then hooked into the rings on the barrel to hold 
it down, just leaving the top of the barrel high 
enough above the surface so that the water 
could not splash over. In case the water was 
shallow a hole was dug to lower the tub to the 
water level. If the water was not too deep the 
hunter would wade out to his blind, otherwise he 
would be rowed out in a boat. In shooting from 
a sink tub blind one has to shoot over decoys 
and a hunter with a good call and a bunch of 
decoys was pretty sure of a string of birds to 
take to camp. By the time the ice was out of 
the marsh I had everything ready for the start. 
The ice usually goes out about the tenth to the 
twentieth of March. Sometimes it is earlier 
than that and sometimes later. Finally the day 
for the start came. We made camp on a small 
island in the marsh near a large island called 
Round Grove and near a large, open body of 

154 



PlONEhR HUNTERS OK THE KANKAKEE 
water called Goose Pond, which bordered on the 
swamp timber line. After supper I set my bar- 
rel house blind and had all made ready for the 
morrow. I lay down on a marsh hay bed to 
dream of the long line of quacking ducks com- 
ing to the decoys. I was up early the following 
morning. Placing a dozen wood decoys in a 
basket with my powder flask and shot pouch 
and with my No. 10 double barrel muzzle loader 
on my shoulder I departed for the blind which I 
reached before sunrise. In going through the 
marsh to the blind I ran across the remains of 
an old blind that had been used the year before 
with a stake driven in the ground and a half cir- 
cle board. Part of the head of a nail keg was 
nailed on the stake still standing. With my 
hatchet I cut the stake off at the water's edge 
and put it in my barrel house blind, It fitted 
nicely and made a good seat. I placed the de- 
coys about twenty yards in front of the blind. 
Stepping inside the barrel I picked up my old 
fowling piece, placing caps on the tubs, snapped 

155 



BARREL-HOUSE BLIND 

them to make sure that the tubs were clean and 
dry. I always did this before loading a gun that 
had not been used for sometime. Then care- 
fully loading with four drams of powder and one 
and one-eighth ounce of No. 6 shot 1 was set 
for whalever came along. As the sun arose 
above the timber of the swamp and over the 
marsh horizon like a big ball of brass, the spike- 
tails and wegians began to fly in countless num- 
bers. A few shots had been fired on the marsh 
a mile or so above where I was by some camp- 
ers on Round Grove. This put the ducks to 
flight. It was quite interesting to watch these 
movements among the thousands of spikes and 
wegians. I heard the quack of two green- 
heads. It took me some time to locate them 
among the spike-tails and wegians. But an- 
swering my call they decoyed nicely and as they 
poised in the air before alighting they made an 
easy mark and they both came tumbling down 
at the first shot. Shortly after this a flock of 
canvas-backs came over the decoys, leaving 

156 



PlONEhR HUNTERS OK THE KANKAttEE 
three of their number behind. I did fairly well 
after my return to the blind on the second morn- 
ing, for I had a double shot at a bunch of pin- 
tails. Then while my gun was empty there 
came to the decoys the largest flock of black 
ducks I ever saw. Without exageration 1 believe 
there was over a hundred of them. They lit 
among the decoys and all around my sneak 
barrel, some within twenty feet of where 1 sat 
with an empty gun. Imagine, if you can, how 
queer I felt while sitting there like a bump on a 
log. Those that lit close by eyed me anxiously. 
Finally 1 began very carefully to load the gun. 
I got the powder in all right but did not have 
room enough in the barrel to get the ramrod out 
and get the wads down on the powder without 
exposing my arms above the barrel. Those 
near me gave the warning signal and took 
flight. In a moment all were gone. 1 finished 
loading but never fully recovered over my mis- 
hap of losing the best chance I have ever had 
in all my hunting experiences for a big shot at 

157 



BARRKL-HOUSE BLIND 

black ducks, Shortly after this a large lone 
duck came from the direction of the swamp 
timber and came over in the decoys and as he 
poised and curved his wings to light I let him 
down with the first barrel and when I waded out 
to pick him up I found a duck unknown to me. 
It was a large brown bird with a large flat bill, 
looking very much like a spoon-bill. None of 
the hunters on the marsh that saw^it could tell 
the name of the duck. The morning of the 
third day was rough and cold, the wind was 
blowing strong from the northwest and not many 
ducks were seen out on the open marsh in 
stormy and windy weather for they would stay 
in or near the timber. Yet I had fairly good 
shooting for two or three hours in the morning. 
As I was sitting in my sink barrel blind thinking 
how much more comfortable it was than stand- 
ing in the water in a grass blind all day, I heard 
a loud "swish" of wings. Looking out I saw five 
large ducks over the decoys. I arose, gave 
them the right barrel and two fell dead and a 

158 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAK.EE 

clean miss with the second. I waded out and 
picked up two black ducks and here is where I 
discovered that there are two varieties of black 
ducks just as surely as two and two make four. 
By ten o'clock it was getting very rough. The 
waves would splash over the top of the barrel. 
I gathered up my decoys and made a bee-line 
for camp. I had in all forty-six ducks and in 
that number there were eight varieties of the 

duck family. /Aany of the varieties that 1 killed 



then are now extinct. I would never believe 
that in fifty years those great myriads of migra- 
tion ducks could have been exterminated. In 
years gone by I have often wondered where so 
many species of the duck family sprang from, 
so much more so than the dry land birds. The 
book name of many birds is derived from habits 
and their dress, as the green-head mallard, the 
spike-tail which has jmly two long pointed 
feathers in their tail. The wood-duck, some- 
times called the tree-duck from the fact that 
they build their nests in old snags and hollow 

159 



BARRKL-HOUSE BLIND 

trees and sometimes they are called the nut- 
hatch, but I have never heard where she got the 
name. But like any hunter who kills a duck 
and does not know the name of it he can offer a 
guess. The wood-ducks build their nests in 
hollow trees. Sometimes the flying squirrel or 
wood-mice will carry a few butter-nuts or beach 
nuts in a wood-duck's nest to crack at his leis- 
ure and perhaps some early observers found 
these nuts in a wood duck's nest and jokingly 
accused the duck of trying to hatch them. I 
have come to the conclusion that this is the 
way that so many new names of ducks have 
sprung up in later years, A few days later we 
broke camp and moved out of the marsh, 
scarcely a duck was to be seen. This was the 
first portable blind or tub-shooting ever done on 
the Kankakee. A year or so later there were 
scores of sink tubs in use but of a different type. 
They were made of galvanized sheet iron most- 
ly instead of an old kerosene barrel, and while I 
do not want to claim anything new ir. shooting 

160 



P1ONELR HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKLh 
from a blind, for that mode of hunting is as old 
as man, only an improvement of the system 
during those early days. They were many 
marked hunters and very few of their names I 
can recall except the Cannons, Roots, /Aore- 
houses, Starkeys and scores of others whose 
names I have forgotten. Harry, my half broth- 
er, was a star wing-shot and last but not least 
were the Qilson boys, Ed and Billy, who were 
believed by many to be the best shots on the 
river. I remember one time, many years ago, 
before breech-loaders came in use, one of them 
killed one hundred and ninety ducks and eight 
geese in one day's shooting using a muzzle 
loader, It was during the early seventies that 
Kankakee region reached the zenith of its glory 
as a hunting resort. /Ay first shooting was done 
from a boat. In some seasons we would have 
splendid shooting and in others not so good, 
this depended on the weather conditions, The 
marshes seemed to be the natural feeding 
grounds, especially for the diving ducks. But 

161 



BARREL-HOUSE BLIND 

the dredging of great ditches through the low- 
lands letting the water off caused the glory of 
the Kankakee Marshes to depart. I only wish 
I had the ability to describe and make you feel 
the beauty of these marsh islands to those of 
my readers who may not have seen them. Pic- 
ture the prairie marshes for miles and miles in 
length and from two to twelve miles in width 
and dotted with hundreds of small islands and 
ridges containing from one-half to twenty acres. 
The one that we were camped upon contained 
about four acres. The lofty sycamore with its 
white bark can be seen for miles as they rose 
above the mammoth oak and down from its 
limbs dropped ropes of creeping grape-vines, 
while there were many others covered with huc- 
kleberry bushes. There were many different 
species of birds which inhabited these islands. 
Among the game birds were several species of 
the snipe family which nests and rears its young 
during the nesting season. The wood-duck also 
also inhabited these islands and a half dozen or 

162 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
more other varieties of ducks nesting on or near 
an island. Also, in early times it was a great 
nesting place for wild geese and for this reason 
a portion of this great marsh in northern Jasper 
County along the Kankakee Swamp timber was 
known as Goose Lake but generally known 
among the latter-day hunters as Goose Fond, 
where thousands of geese would flock to roost 
at night and in the morning they would leave 
for the feeding grounds, usually on some farm- 
er's wheat or cornfields. When they would rise 
from the water the air was filled with birds and 
the flop of their wings as they rise have the 
sound of an express train rumbling over a 
bridge. Now I have tried to picture this great 
pond at twilight or daybreak. It stands out in 
memory as one of the most beautiful 1 have 
ever seen in a country abounding in marshes, a 
lake where the surroundings were not marred 
by man and given over to the wild things that 
love the silent places. Another time I was out 
duck hunting and we had in camp a hunter of 

163 



BARREL-HOUSE HLIND 

many years experience but when he came to 
camp in the evening his string would show only 
a few birds and when aske'd what was the rea- 
son he said he didn't know unless it was that 
the feathers carried away the birds, This hap- 
pened to me many times and "Understand, old- 
timers.' I am not telling you that every shot I 
fired brought down a bird." Not by any means, 
for many we're the foxy old birds that I shot at 
and missed or as the old-time hunters termed it, 
another case where the feathers carried away 
the meat. As times passes and years unfold, it is 
a matter of intense interest to the water-fowl 
hunters how certain varieties of duck grow 
scarce and others come into prominence, which 
in early years was unknown to the hunting fra- 
ternity. This is remarkably true of several 
species and particularly applies to nearly every 
variety of large kucks known in the Kankakee 
River Region. As I have said, many varieties 
of ducks, plentiful fifty years ago, are now almost 
exterminated and where we ran our boats over 

164 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
the marshes and where I sat in my kerosene 
barrel blind and shot ducks almost fifty years 
ago now stands the farmer's house in the corn- 
fields and the scene of those by-gone days still 
clings to my memory. How often do my 
thoughts drift back to those camp days. What 
a lot more fun can a fellow have in a hunter's 
lodge or trapper's shanty costing about fifteen 
dollars amidst its natural surroundings, than in 
a ten thousand dollar mansion with its artificial 
environments. Every hunter has a hobby and 
some have two, as it was with me in my youthr 
ful days, It has been said that hobbies belong 
to the human and are a part of the Creator's 
birthright. The human nature glories of pos- 
session, both good and bad and all valuable. It 
has been said by scholarly men that hobbies of 
sane men often discount the dreams of an idiot, 
nevertheless we have them just the same. I 
loved hunting with a gun on the waters and dry 
land, I also enjoyed fully as well hunting with 
a good dog on the ice. Now before breaking 

165 



BARREL-HOUSK BLIND 

camp and leaving the Kankakee hunting 
grounds to the agriculturist, which is now pass- 
ing into its third stage of development, I want to 
tell the readers of another type of hunters 
known as the fur hunters, and their hunting out- 
fit consisted of a good dog or two. an axe, a 
shovel and a rat spear. I have told the reader 
how we. hunted the deer, shot the wild geese, 
trapped wild animals. Now I will relate how we 
hunted the ring-tail, raccoon, mink and musk- 
rat, and occasionally an otter but not very often 
as they stay close to deep water. If there was 
snow on the ice the coon and mink were 
tracked to their dens and the musk-rat was 
speared in his house with a long two-pronged 
spear jabbed through the house where the rats 
stayed during the day. But the coon and mink 
were mostly hunted with dogs. Scores of fur 
hunters who hunted the swamps with dogs 
never hunted with a gun at all and the hunter 
who owned a good coon or mink dog in those 
days had something that was valuable. One 

166 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEK 
time whilst in camp on one of those swamp 
islands quite near our camp was a half-breed 
Indian's hnt and with the hope of securing e few 
matches I called at his hut and found that he 
was the owner of a very valuable coon dog, 
judging from the number of hides that 1 saw 
sticking around in the hut. Not seeing any dog 
around I inquired what kind of a dog he hunted 
with. He said that he had an imported coon 
dog from Missouri. Now believing that many 
of my readers who are lovers of a good dog will 
be interested with the true meaning of a good 
coon, dog I will briefly relate fhe story told by 
the owner of the dog "Muck," as that was his 
name. He was a black-tan English fox hound 
and was born in the Ozark Mountains in south- 
ern Missouri and in those days the Missouri 
mountains were alive with raccoons and hunting 
coons was sort of hereditary with Muck. When 
but a few days old and before his eyes had 
opened he and his two brothers were bought by 
a Kankakee hunter and brought to the r\anka- 

167 



BARREL- HOUSE BLIND 

kee Swamps and turned over to a bull bitch to 
be mothered and cared for. With their Keen 
scent of inheritance and the viciousness of their 
foster mother they were made the most famous 
hunting dogs that ever hunted in the Kankakee 
Swamps and those puppies with no pedigree 
other than that of a /Missouri hound, sold for 
one hundred and fifty dollars each. Their quali- 
fications, nerve and size for the hunters of coon 
and mink in the swamps on the ice in those 
days made them valuable not only for coon and 
mink hunting but they were trained for other 
game deer, wolves and foxes, One of them 
fell into the hands of a noted deer hunter, Ed 
McNeel, and when the dog was eleven years 
old he refused an offer of two hundred dollars, 
offered by some Michigan deer hunter who 
wanted the old dog to train some young ones. 
1 have an old note book made of hunting events 
of years ago. Its covers are tattered, dirty and 
faded, and on the outside shows plainly upon 
its shabby service the ravage of time and evi- 

168 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
dence of wear and tear, But its pages are full 
of happy memories of, by-gone days and recol- 
lections stir me as I open the old book. What a 
blessed gift is memory of all the many gifts of an 
all-wise, beneficient Creator, The gift of mem- 
ory I believe to be the most precious of all, A 
person may lose his possessions, be deprived of 
sight or the loss of a limb but once having seen 
and enjoyed these things the memory will re- 
main whilst life and intellect last and can be re- 
called at most any time. When ! turn over the 
dim and faded pages I am back again in the old 
Kankakee Swamps. What events in hunting 
you can remember, Friend Hunter. What glor- 
ious happenings occured when you were present 
to behold them. Every hunter keeps in his 
memory to the last some wonderful performance 
of the hunting grounds. He has only to shut his 
eyes and see again the shots or catch, just as it 
was made, even though it might have been forty, 
fifty or even seventy-five years ago and the 
smallest details of the great achievements will 

169 



BAfcREL-HOUSE BLIND 

never pass from his recollections. Every old- 
time hunter has a string of such memories to 
think back upon. What were the most wonder- 
ful happenings of all. it has been said, that the 
hunters love best the trapping side of hunting. 
While this might be true from the financial side 
yet ask any old timer to tell of five great events 
of happenings of things he saw and four of them 
will be tales of hunting with the gun. Think it 
over and see if it isn't strictly true. The mem- 
ory of hunting glories lingers longer and the 
thoughts of many great shots made will come 
sooner to the recollection than any achieve- 
ment made with the rod or traps. The hunters 
who were there (I wasn't) have always claimed 
that the greatest of all rifle shots ever made in 
the Kankakee Swamps was made on Long 
Ridge about fifty years ago by a hunter named 
Hall, who is now dead, Hall was a native of 
Jasper County and a deer hunter by trade. He 
and Harrison Dalson hunted deer together a 
great deal and were together on the day that 

170 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAK.EE 

Mall made the great shot. Two deer came 
dashing by Hall, running in opposite directions, 
and when they came opposite of each other 
Mall took aim and fired. The ball passed 
through the body of the first deer Hilling it in- 
stantly and struck the other deer under the 
shoulder between the first and second ribs and 
lodged near the heart and a few bounds more 
and it fell dead. A few days later A\r, Dalson 
was out hunting in the swamp when he came 
upon two big bucks fighting. They had locked 
their horns so tight together that they could not 
separate themselves, he shot one and knocked 
the other in the head with his hunting axe. He 
hung them up and went home and told Hall 
that he no longer had the best of him, for he 
had killed two deer with only one shot. Hall, 
wouldn't believe it at first but when he could not 
find any bullet hole in one of the bucks, only 
where it had been hit on the head with the pole 
of an axe. Yet he was entitled to claim the 
champion shot having killed his two, running 

171 



BARREL-HOUSE BLliND 

with one bullet. Many years ago Father hilled 
two, a doe and a fawn, at one shot, They were 
standing still. He had trailed them into a red- 
brush thicket where the brush was so thick that 
one could not see only a short distance. The 
red-brush is a species of scrub-oak that grows 
on the sand ridges. They hold their leaves on 
all winter, making it a great hiding place for 
deer. Looking under the bushes Father saw 
what he thought was a deer's legs but could 
not see any part of the body. Raising the 
trusty old rifle to his shoulder he aimed where 
he thought its body would be and fired. At the 
crack of the gun away bounded a deer. He 
went to where he thought the deer was standing 
and there lay one too dead to kick. To solve 
the mystery he looked at the tracks of the one 
that ran away and discovered great splotshes of 
blood on the snow. Following the trail thirty- 
five or forty yards he found the doe kicking her 
last kick. The bullet had passed through the 
fawn and lodged in the shoulder of the doe. As 

172 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKKK 
they stood side by side, only a few feet apart, 
they were killed by the same bullet, The inci- 
dents just mentioned are only a few of the mem- 
orable shots. What hunters have seen such 
doings, or rather, where is there any hunter who 
never saw things just as wonderful? 



CHAPTER XV 
DRAINING THK SWAMPS 

WHERE THE 
INGENUITY OF HAS 

DEFEATED THE DESIGNS OF NATURE 
BY ERASING THE KANKAKE SWAMPS OFF THE 
MAP. THE OLD RIVER AND THE 
ONCE FAMOUS HUNTING 
GROUNDS A PAST 
MEMORY 

It is not my purpose to write the story of the 
reclaiming or rather, the story of the new Kan- 
kakee River, as it is a history in itself. In our 
childhood we were taught by our teacher and 
the geography that this vast region was a great 
swamp and by the term "swamp" it means a 
low depression in the earth's surface and this 
was filled with water and mud and by applying 
the term "swamp" this vast Kankakee Region 
made a very large mud-hole, This teaching 
was a great hinderance to the settling up of this 
country and many men and women still cling 

174 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKttE 
tenaciously to that teaching. Up to a quarter 
of a century ago any mention of the Kankakee 
Swamps called up visions of a region of limit- 
less extent of swamps and marshes, uninhabited 
and desolate, a country always associated with 
tales of suffering and death, of unfriendly sav- 
ages and wild animals. For years this country 
was passed over by hunters and prospectors 
and was considered worthless, but the marvel- 
ous transformation which has taken place in the 
last three decades in the land of silence and 
sunshine, furnishes one of the most interesting 
and inspiring pages in the history of our great 
Kankakee development, The Kankakee swamp 
is vanishing from the map. Its boundaries have 
shrunken and it is no longer presenting a for- 
midable barrier to the growth and progress of 
northwestern Indiana. There was at that time 
several hundred thousand acres of this water- 
soaked, craw-fish country that has been re- 
claimed by means of dredging, that are now 
producing bountiful harvests. Every year hun- 

175 



DRAINING THE SwAMPS 
drcds oi people are residing on farms now that 
a few years ago were mush-rat ponds. Years 
ago tt was a very common thing to hear of 
some Eastern speculator being taken in by one 
of those swamp-land swindlers. They would 
plat out a tract of swamp land, go East to find 
their victim and trade or sell a tract of this land 
to some speculator. One Mr. Jones, of Dayton, 
Ohio, was taken in by some swindler in this way 
and when he came to look for his land he could 
not find it as it was covered with water from one 
to five feet deep and the way that Jones told it 
was more amusing than true. Jones said he 
was a victim of mispleced confidence. He had 
traded for a tract of land on the Kankakee 
River and was making a trip down the river in 
search of his land. He said that it had two 
good houses on it and was near a town. I 
should judge from his description of the country 
that he was looking for his farm. That the town 
and houses must of been musk-rat houses and 
the town must have been a rat-town. I would 

176 



PIONEER HUNTERS OE THE KANKAKKK 
term it such from the inhabitants of the place as 
I have experienced just such a joke myself 
many years ago whilst I was an overland freight- 
er on the western" plains. We would work this 
gag on the tenderfoot that would come along 
inquiring if there were any settlements or set- 
tlers living anywhere near, The answer was 
most always in the affirmative and if they would 
go to such and such a place there was quite a 
settlement and a large town. The tenderfoot on 
going to the place directed would find it inhabit- 
ed by a lively little four-footed tribe known as 
prairie dogs, (i have hunted for these towns 
myself.) This is about such a farm that Mr. 
Jones had traded for instead of two good farms 
and houses. They were musk-rat houses. It 
was in sixty-nine (the wet season) when Jones 
made his trip down the Kankakee and the re- 
sources of the country were not so well de- 
veloped then as they are now, and his story of 
what he saw is more amusing than jest, so far 
as the truth is concerned. He says Indiana is 



DRAINING THE SWAMPS 
a delightful country or will be when it is finished. 
The State is big enough and a considerable por- 
tion of it has a good foundation. What it wants 
is building up. There is plenty of water and 
sand, pucker-brush, roots and cotton trees, 
swamps and marshes and a wonderful vegeta- 
tion of grass and vines and wild flowers. What 
it wants is more land, at least what a Hoosier 
calls land. But it is coming on. Thousands of 
acres of this Kankakee /Aarsh where the musk- 
rat houses used to stand now stands the golden 
grain shocks. What the change that will be 
made in the next quarter of a century is I leave 
to the reader to guess at, /Ar. Jones then goes 
on to say that he did not trade for a musk-rat 
town or a cotton-wood grove, Being discour- 
aged because anyone could have a town who 
would take a boat and go out in the swamp 
with a surveyor and make a map of a musk-rat 
pond, big house and population, The White 
Star was making a trip up the river to Baum's 
Bridge when she met /Ar. Jones, the Ohio land 

178 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANfCAKKE 
speculator, who was sailing over the marshes 
hunting for his farm. The steamer had struck a 
snag and the crew was at work getting loose 
when Jones and his party came up. He began 
telling the crew how tired he was of water and 
marshes and more water and scraggley brush 
and more water. Finally he bluffed the captain 
of the White Star by saying: "Coptain, what is 
the average price of land up in this part of the 
country. By the gallon, I think." P\r. Jones 
was tired of his Kankakee land speculation 
when he made his trip down the Kankakee. 
/Aany other Easterners have been taken in the 
same way by buying or trading Kankakee land 
without seeing it and when they come to look 
for the land it is out of sight, covered with 
water. Sometimes this region was called "the 
land that God forgot to finish." To my mind it 
was finished just as the Almighty intended it to 
be, it was left for man to finish. And now I am 
going to tell you in part how it was done. By 
the ingenuity of man, assisted by the State gov- 

179 



DRAINING THE SWAMPS 
eminent, is due the credit oi erasing the swamp 
from our map and converting the counlry, which 
God forgot, into pleasant places for the habita- 
tion of man. At this time there was between 
four and five hundred thousand acres of this 
land practically water-soaked and worthless. 
Now it is drained by these engineering workers. 
This work of the State Reclaiming Service af- 
fords many examples of man's audacity of de- 
feating the designs of nature, This draining 
movement originated way back in the early 
fifties when the Governor of Indiana recom- 
mended a bill to the Legislature for the redeem- 
ing of the swamp lands along the Kankakee 
Valley. That it was the State's duty to the 
great agricultural class of the Kankakee Valley 
that the farmers of this region have contributed 
a greater service to the people of the state than 
can ever be repaid. The landowners themselves 
in an overgight of the law regarding the sale and 
drainage of swamp lands have willingly bought 
and paid for these lands and then taxed them- 

180 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE 
selves for the drainage besides. Article Eight, 
Section Two of the Constitution for the State of 
Indiana which is as follows: "All lands that have 
been or may be hereafter gianted to the State 
where no special purpose is expressed in the 
grant and the proceeds of the sale thereof, in- 
cluding the proceeds of the sale of the swamp 
land granted to the State of Indiana by the act 
of Congress on the 28th day of September, 
1850." In the same section implies that the 
swamp lands were granted to the state on con- 
dition that the money derived from the sale oi 
those lands be used in the drainage of the same. 
That part of the contract, sorry to say, has never 
been carried out. As I have said, all great 
movements have their beginning. So it was 
with the drainage of the Kankakee Swamps. In 
the early fifties a bunch of men, afterwards 
known as the Kankakee Swamp Land Swind- 
lers, went into an agreement with the State 
Authorities at Indianapolis to drain a certain 
amount of the Kankakee marshes by digging 

181 



DRAINING THE SWAMPS 
big ditches and emptying them in the river and 
they were to take a certain percent of the land 
drained for their pay. They dug a few small 
ditches on range and section lines, reported 
same to the state authorities and received their 
land grants for several thousand acres of swamp 
land without ever draining an acre of the land. 
They sold and traded great tracts of this land to 
Eastern speculators who never saw the land be- 
fore buying it and in some instances they never 
saw it after buying it. As mention has before 
been made, when they came to look for their 
new possessions it could not be found on ac- 
count of being covered with water. The specu- 
lators could see no future for such a desolate 
region and never paid the taxes. The lands 
were sold for taxes. The counties held the tax 
sales and very little of it was ever redeemed and 
the land went back to the State. Occasionally 
in later years some of these tax title deeds and 
swamp land swindlers' deeds are heard of in the 
district courts. The state issued the land grants 

182 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANK.AK.Et 

in good iaith but the ditch makers did not fulfill 
their part of the agreement. In 1854 the State 
Authorities ordered a swamp land ditch com- 
missioner to be appointed and Aaron Lytle, of 
Valparaiso, Ind,, was appointed to this position 
and was the first ditch commissioner for this 
district. After serving about a year and a half 
he resigned and Ezriah Freeman was appointed 
his successor. Commissioner Lytle had a few 
ditches surveyed out and dug. They were sold 
out in sections and half sections just as much as 
a contractor thought he could construct. State 
Ditch No, 1 on the north side of the river was 
the first ditch dug and an Irishman by the name 
of AcDugal contracted for the first two mile sec- 
tions and John Broady of Three Rivers, /Michi- 
gan, bought the third and half of the fourth sec- 
tions one and a half miles. State Ditch No. 2 
was run farther east beginning at the river and 
running up old Sandy Hook to where it inter- 
sected with Ditch No. 1 near an island called 
Bridge Island. I might explain here why it de- 

183 



DRAINING THE SWAMPS 
rived that name is from the fact that at this 
place is where the first wagon road crossed 
Sandy Hook, Early in the seventies a wagon 
bridge was built across the East Channel of 
Sandy Hook from the main land to the Island, a 
little over five hundred feet long, Previous to 
the building of the bridge the channel was ford- 
ed during low water and footmen crossed the 
channel in boats, Getting back to the subject, 
these ditches were dug by hand with pick and 
shovel and were twelve feet wide for the first 
three miles then eight feet wide to the source. 
The two ditches that 1 have mentioned were the 
first State ditches dug in the Kankakee Valley 
They were practically a failure. At the lower 
end where they emptied their waters into the 
Kankakee they filled up on account of back 
water when the river was high and the ditch 
was of little use at all, as they had to be cleaned 
and recleaned every few years costing the land- 
owners several thousand dollars at each opera- 
tion which means that these people have spent 

184 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE K.ANK.AK.EE 

nearly one hundred thousand dollars of their 
own money without as yet realizing the desired 
benefit. Most of these settlers bought this poor, 
wet land with limited capital and are improving 
it under hard conditions. Legally and by all 
rights the State owes to the land-owners of the 
Kankakee River Region every dollar that has 
been spent in the reclaiming of these lands. As 
I have said all great improvements have their 
beginning. So in the summer of eighty-six was 
the date of the digging of the Cass and Single- 
ton big ditch in Lake County and it was the first 
dredge ditch dug for the reclaiming of the swamp 
region. Since that there have been many 
ditches constructed on both sides of the river 
running parallel with the stream One of great 
importance was the drainage of English Lake 
some years ago, Three years ago was com- 
menced the reclaiming ditch, the new Kankakee 
River, by straightening the old river which was 
so crooked in its course that it almost crossed 
itself. In a distance of forty miles, straight line. 

185 




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c 



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23 

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DRAINING THE SWAMPS 
it ran near one hundred and fifty miles, under- 
mining big trees along its banks that would tum- 
ble down in the river and wash out great holes 
in one place and fill up in another, making it a 
slow, sluggish stream, In high water it would 
spread out over the swamps and marshes for 
miles on each side of the river, Since the con- 
struction of the big ditch the water is all confined 
to this channel. If some of these swamp land 
speculators could return to this region they 
find what they were looking for fourty or fifty 
years ago, The large land owners such as 
Cass 6 Singleton, Qifford, of Kankakee City, 
Illinois, and Nelson Morris, the Chicago meat 
packer, and many others who owned large 
tracts of swamp lands were strong in favor of 
draining whilst many others were opposed to 
the movement, especially the huuters and trap- 
pers who said that it would ruin their business, 
that the Kankakee Swamps were more valuable 
for their furs than they were for their agricul- 
tural purposes. The money that was brought 

186 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE K.ANKAK.KE 

into this country for the sale of iurs amounts to 
between sixty-five and seventy-five thousand 
dallars every year, that the revenue for furs 
alone from 1850 to 1900 amounts to over 
three million dollars. Furs vary greatly in 
price from one year to the next. But only dur- 
ing the fifty years was there one good prime rat 
hide brought in selling for thirty-three cents. In 
those days a musk-rat hide would bring from 
three to ten cents a hide. Father predicted that 
the day would come when a good prime rat 
shin would sell for a dollar. Fifty-two years 
later in 1920 his prediction came true, when he 
saw good prime rat skins sell for four dollars 
and ten cents apiece. In those days it took a 
rat skin to buy a common sewing needle. A 
French fur trader by the name of Cuttauh from 
Detroit, Michigan, used to buy furs in this re- 
gion and he told the trappers' wives that they 
had better buy in a good supply of needles, as 
the needle-maker was dead and that they would 
not get any more needles very soon. Upon the 

187 




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c 

ac 



O 
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H 



DRAINING THE SWAMPS 
strength of this statement he traded thousands 
of needles to the squaws and the wives of the 
white hunters, in exchange he gave them a 
needle for a rat skin. This vast region that 
was considered worthless has made many a 
man a small fortune. The best figures obtained 
for the amount of furs caught and sold by the 
hunters and trappers of the Kankakee Swamps 
between the years of 1850 and 1900 was ap- 
proximately three million, seven hundred and 
fitly thousand dollars, an average of seventy-five 
thousand per year. Whenever there was a bill 
up before the legislature for an appropriation for 
the drainage of the swamp lands there was al- 
ways enough to oppose it and cause its defeat 
and yet the water soaked lands were doomed. 
Finally the fatal day came. A big dredging ma- 
chine was set to work in the river a few miles 
above Baum's Bridge and excavated a great 
ditch of one hundred and fifty feet in width 
through the dense forest. Hence the new Kan- 
kakee River. The game had become almost 

188 



PIONEER HUNTERS OK THE KANKAKKL 

extinct long before the water ever flowed in the 
new river. The last deer that was killed in the 
swamp, to my knowledge, was killed by E, D. 
Salsberry, a Panhandle railroad engineer of Lo- 
gansport, Indiana, in his Fall hunt of 1880. 
Salsberry and his party wre in camp on Cor- 
nell Island and .one morning he and Ike Shaw, 
another Panhandle engineer, were going to the 
South Aarsh for a day's shooting and in going 
through the swamp timber a deer ran across the 
trail and Salsberry shot and killed it. using small 
bird shot. And two months later Father killed 
one on the North /Aarsh, These were the last 
deer ever seen alive or dead in this part of the 
swamp region. The story of the Kankakee 
country is a story of evolution in the develop- 
ment of a country richly endowed by nature, 
and a story of neglected opportunity, neglected 
in some instances not from lack of appreciation 
but from man's natural inclination to follow 
along the lines of least resistance. Nature has 
done so much for this favored country that the 

189 




Camp of Logansport, Ind., Hunters on Cornell's Island 

on the Kankakee in 1880 

Left Camp H. J. McSheehy, John Condon, Sam Doll, 
J. B. Messinger. Right Camp Ed Salsbury, Ike Shaw 



DRAINING THE SWAMPS 
struggle for existence which called forth man's 
best energies, eliminated. It was easy to live, 
to understand the slow development of this re- 
gion and to appreciate the rapid progress of 
later years, We must understand its geographi- 
cal location, its topographical formation and the 
conditions controlling its destiny. Way back, 
nearly a century ago, when Major Long ex- 
plored this Kankakee region, in his report he 
gave it the name "Kankakee Swamps." The 
term caught the fancy of the public and has 
been set in type for it ever since and it is impos- 
sible to estimate how potent a factor the phrase 
has been in retarding the growth of this coun- 
try, Here, as well as in most all new territories, 
the hunter followed close on the foot-steps of 
the pathfinders and here, indeed, was the Hunt- 
er's Paradise, Imagine, if you can, an area of 
several hundred thousand acres of swamp and 
marsh land and abounding with wild game of 
all kinds and the river alive with fish of the best 
varieties found in the States. While the deer. 

190 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKKE 

wild-hog, turkeys, geese and ducks made the 
hunters meat; the otter, mink, musk-rat, raccoon, 
wolf, fox, lynx and wild-cat were the fur-bearing 
animals. It surely was the home of the hunter 
and trapper. This was the condition of the re- 
gion when the Redman left it and the white 
hunter built his cabin on the wooded islands 
and the shores of the Kankakee. Yet many of 
the readers wonder why white men with their 
families lived in so secluded a spot. Could the 
hearts of the hunters ask for more; could nature 
more bountifully bestow her gifts? That he 
should look with disapproval on the swamps is 
no small wonder. But by and by the man with 
the hoe came and looked upon the country and 
it seemed to him that this swamp region was 
too good to be given over to the musk-rat and 
the raccoon and to the exclusive use of the few 
men who did not own them and this is what 
brought about the reclaiming movement. Un- 
der the new conditions, with the advent of the 
Swamp (Gifford) Railroad, the Kankakee swamp 

191 



DRAINING THE SWAMPS 
country passed into its second stage of develop- 
ment and in many places the "hoodooed" craw 
fish flats of the Kankakee region is now the 
Kankakee Valley corn fields. The reclaiming 
of the Kankakee swamps cast a shadow of 
gloom and sadness to the few remaining old- 
time hunters who have spent their early years 
hunting and trapping on the Kankakee river. 
They feel pretty much as did the Indians when 
they had to give up their ideal hunting grounds 
to the whites. The pioneer hunter saw the 
French fur-trader and the Indian go, then they 
saw the wild game go and now what is left of 
their number have seen the vanishing of the 
Kankakee swamps. In the language of the 
poet "There is a magical tie to the land of our 
home, which the heart cannot break though the 
footsteps may roam." Yes, indeed, the ties that 
bind us to the land of our birth are truly magi- 
cal. I often find this so when I am visiting my 
old home. 1 am naturally attracted to the 
scenes that I loved so well when a boy. So it 

192 



PIONEER HUNTERS OE THE KANKAKKh 
was with the Indians that once inhabited this 
region. The reader remembers that mention 
was made in a previous chapter of my visit to 
the Pottowattomies in the Indian Reservation. 
One old warrior, Chief Nae-nee-be-zho, narrates 
the sadness and sorrow of his people. Me spoke 
of the whites, of the white man's hunting ground 
and their destiny. He told how they would van- 
ish and be no more. He said in part, "Oh, 
Great /faster, the pale-face comes and the Red- 
man is driven from the face of the earth. The 
land that was ours is gone from us and the 
rocks are our bed and the leaves are our cover. 
We sigh in vain for yesterday, we have no hope, 
no comfort for tomorrow, all our greatness is' 
gone and the Redman's days are but few, ! 
return to the land of my Father, 1 gaze on the 
placid river. Oh that I might die and sleep 
here where the great Waubonsie breathed the 
air, beneath the same trees which have shelter- 
ed him, Oh where are the friends of my Father, 
where is the war chief Waubonsie, /Aeltontonis 

193 



DRAINING THh SWAMPS 

and many others? Oh, could I stand x where my 
tribes once roamed. But no vestige of the pow- 
erful Fottowattomies remain. The lakes and 
marshes and the Kankakee River, which my 
canoe was want to glide; knows not the dip 
of the Redman's paddle. Whera once I moored 
my canoe to the shore of Lake Michigan now 
the great steamers are at anchor and the dip of 
the Redman's paddle is heard no more. No 
more does the flint-tipped arrow fall the deer 
and the woodlands resound no more with his 
bounding step upon the brink of the river. But 
now comes the pioneer's cow in its stead. The 
majesty of nature is dwarfed and humbled in 
the marsh of the white man and on his trail is 
naught but nature's ruins. I gaze on the camp 
of the white man and hear him call it Chicago. 
Oh Nau-nee-bo-zho, forgive the cruel pale-face 
for disturbing the peace of the great Shaubanee, 
whose home was along the Kankakee Region. 
I seek for the wigwam of my people and find in 
its place the houses and barns of the white man. 

194 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEfc 

Again, ii they would turn to the spot where the 
great Chiefs held their councils and where the 
pipe of peace was smoked by the great warriors 
they would find cities, towns and villages. The 
brick walls rise on the spot where once the 
deer-skins were spread and the great oak tree 
had been taken away. The memories of the 
Redman have been buried beneath the white 
man's axe, trowel and plow. Nau-nee-bee-zho 
could not understand why they were banished 
from the land that the great master gave them 
unless it was for the treachery of Nau-non-gee, 
or the murderer of Red Bird, on the trail that 
run from Pottowattomie Ford on the Kankakee 
(Eaton's Ferry) to Lake Michigan. Oh memo- 
ries of the Kankakee, which was the ideal hunt- 
ing ground of my sire, are so shattered, all 
about me is desolation and I turn from the 
scene which I sought to return to the land of the 
setting sun. The pale-face has no love for our 
memories and our traditions he regardeth not. 
Sad is the heart of the Redman. Years anJ 



DRAIN INC; THE SWAMPS 
years ago when this old Indian moved his beau- 
tiful squaw to French Island, now the home of 
the white man, and in the same swamp where 
the young papoose paddled his log canoe is 
now the Kankakee corn-fields. Where the war 
dance made the air ring is now heard the brass 
band playing "Just As The Sun Went Down." 
And the tolling of the bells in the towers tells of 
the departure of the Redman who worshipped 
the Great Master. In the quiet groves where 
the sky and the trees were not shut out to the 
Redman, nature is the highest art. He would 
sit in his canoe with Ohemoes and his little 
papoose floating between the banks over the 
silvery waves of the river, He saw in the Great 
/Aaster everything. There was no black smoke 
from the railroad locomotive and traction en- 
gines; no fences to mar the beautiful land which 
the Great Father had given to them. As I was 
about to leave their lodge and bidding them 
good-bye, one of the old warriors rose to his 
feet, threw a blanket around him and passed to 

196 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKlih 

and fro, saying in a low, sad tone: "Oh gone are 
ths days of my youth and memories of my peo- 
ple and the beauties of our beautiful land are 
forever buried. /Ay Father and myself are for- 
gotten, and the Land of Liberty shall know us 
no more." When I visit the scenes of my boy- 
hood where I played with the pebbles and sand, 
where years before played the little papoose 
with his canoe and paddle, and when I recall 
some of my early adventures of hunting and 
fishing, the most pleasant recollections of all 
was my boyhood days in my island home on 
the Kankakee. 

End, 



UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA 



PIONEER HUNTERS OF THE KANKAKEE LOGANSPO